We must act now, together, to stop the pandemic

| October 9, 2020 7:00 AM

To the editor:

COVID-19 cases the last two weeks, from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4:

Flathead County: 559, which equals 5.5 cases per 1,000 people or 1 case per 180 people; 2.5 times the rate of Lincoln County; 3.4 times the rate Spokane County

Lincoln County: 44 equals 2.2 cases per 1,000 people or one case per 454 people; 1.3 times higher than Spokane County

Spokane County: 865, which equals 0.6 cases per 1,000 people or 1 case per 604 people.

I woke up recently at 5 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. I could not get the recent spike in cases in Montana off my mind. Last night I saw pictures and video of the celebration of the nomination of Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court on Sept. 25, where our country’s leaders were not wearing masks, but shaking hands, hugging one another and standing close together talking for more than a few minutes. I also saw pictures of our president leaving the isolation of his hospital suite to drive by his supporters — who were not masking or social distancing — outside Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday.

I simply cannot accept the fact our leaders are promoting the spread of infection by their actions and tweets in the face of the worst infectious outbreak since I was a child, when polio ravaged the country. It seems maniacal for our leaders to defy basic public health recommendations.

I feel like I am stuck in a horror movie and cannot get out! I feel helpless and scared for my fellow Montanans and Americans.

At the current high rate of infection in Kalispell, I would not recommend traveling there except for essential business or essential medical needs. The rate in Libby is 50 percent higher than our worst month (July) now, so we should also avoid being around people not in our own household unless it is essential. All of us should be wearing masks at work or outside our own home.

When not eating at home, we should be eating outside or by ourselves such as in our vehicle. We need to hand wash or sanitize frequently. If you are put in a situation where someone else is not wearing their mask or comes close, then politely excuse yourself.

We can reduce the infection rate by simply doing what dozens of countries in the world have done and continue to do. But without our leadership having courage, heart, inspiration, love, hope and common sense to guide their decisions, we continue to flounder.

I just got the voters guide in the mail and Susie and I began going through it. Next week we should receive our ballots. Voting is one thing I can do to help in the long run.

Dear God, for those who are sick, those who mourn, and those with sick loved ones, please hold them and give them hope and peace, Amen.

Greg Rice, MD