FLATHEAD RESERVATION — South Flathead Lake and the Mission Valley attract summer visitors from all over the country and globe. While Lake and Sanders County have successfully kept COVID-19 numbers low, cluster infections occur quickly when proper precautions are not taken. We’re not out of the woods yet.

More than ever, as life begins to return to a new normal, we need to ensure we are taking precautions to prevent infections, which can lead to clusters, which puts us all back to closures and quarantines. On June 1, Governor Steve Bullock will stop the 14-day quarantine on out-of-state travelers.

Vulnerable individuals should continue to adhere to the stay-at-home guidance. Everyone else can practice individual responsibility, like good hygiene, regular cleaning of areas that are frequently touched, and adherence to social distancing.

As Governor Steve Bullock said, “This directive is not an invitation to forget the lessons that Montana has learned in its fight against COVID-19 these past months … We must continue to place a special emphasis on protecting those in Montana most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. That crucial work demands a collective effort by all Montanans. By continuing to take these measures seriously, we protect our family, friends, and neighbors as Montana begins to emerge from its initial encounter with COVID-19.”

As part of the state plan to re-open, the Mission Valley will see a spike in COVID-19 testing numbers. Over the past weekend, 106 residents and nursing home employees were tested. It’s part of Gov. Bullock’s Phase One plan, which includes testing nursing homes and medical workers. Hospitals are also phasing back into elective surgeries that had been restricted by the pandemic. In the near future, there will be more announcements about increased testing.

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