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Montana is fortunate in having – so far – escaped the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The people of Montana, Gov. Bullock and our public health professionals all deserve credit. Yet, despite our early success, this plague will be with us for some time, threatening our way of life, our health, and our jobs. So, until we have surefire therapies and effective vaccines, we need to keep practicing the "non-pharmaceutical interventions" that have proven effective.

Chief among these interventions is wearing a face mask because of how this virus spreads (through respiratory droplets). "Masking up" is especially important when we go out for groceries or run other errands in closed public spaces. Judging from what I’ve seen in Bozeman lately, many of us seem to think this health crisis is all behind us. But, the virus is still here, waiting to pounce when we let down our guards.

The simple act of wearing a mask can keep each of us from having a devastating health emergency – or from causing someone else to have one. It isn’t a political statement – or a sign of weakness or fear – to wear a mask. It’s the sign of being a good citizen. The CDC recommends people wear face coverings when going out, and even our contrarian president wore one (when the press wasn’t looking). Costco deserves credit as the first major U.S. retailer to require its customers to wear face coverings. This is a small price to pay to protect our health and our economy, and other businesses should follow suit.

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Steven Sweeney