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I began reading the Dec. 29 Chronicle with the article regarding Hill County and the difficulty convincing the residents of that county that COVID is not “like a bad case of the flu.” Objections are raised constantly regarding the restrictions being placed on our “rights”.

Yesterday, I read an article from Oct. 15 in USA Today. Try spending 196 days in the hospital. Have part of your colon removed because of ischemic colitis; be on a ventilator for months; fight infections in your chest and belly and pneumonia in your lungs; go on dialysis because your kidneys begin to fail; go through all of this alone (except for, of course, your medical team) because visitors are not allowed. This fortunate woman may have gone home but will still use ventilation at night and will continue rehabilitating her wasted muscles and need to build stamina for a long time.

I saw also that Gianforte will be providing us with his “recommendations” for keeping Montana safe after he is installed as governor. As I understand it, Gianforte will be “encouraging” mask use but is relying on “personal responsibility.” This is how that works: I followed a young couple into Costco before Christmas. They were given masks because they did not have any. They pocketed the masks as they walked away to look at big screen TVs.

You may have the “right” to spend 196-plus days of your life lost to the horror of COVID but for many Montanans, death would more likely be the result. Wearing a mask shouldn’t be an option, it should be mandated. This isn’t about “you” or “rights.” It’s about the welfare of us all.

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Beth A. Sinnema