It has been a rocky road in the world since March. COVID 19 has turned the world upside down. But, some places have been affected slightly less than others. Places like the Bitterroot Valley and Ravalli County. Even though we have seen a surge of COVID cases in Ravalli County in the last month, it still seems low in comparison to other parts of the state. This has put places like Ravalli County, and other less populated counties in Montana, on the map for what are considered "pandemic refugees." People from other parts of the country that have been hit harder by COVID 19. People looking to escape the crowds and live a more secluded Montana lifestyle. This has created an insane housing market in the state and an influx of "out-of-staters." Not to mention a ton of California license plates on Land Rovers.

Speaking of "out-of-staters." Out of state publication, the New York Times, recently focused on the Bitterroot Valley and how people are handling the crisis. Even while COVID cases continue to surge. The article dives into how businesses are handling the mask mandate and how towns like Hamilton are changing right before our eyes.

According to the NY Times article

This summer, the governor, Steve Bullock, mandated face coverings in public spaces to combat a spike in Covid-19 cases. But the sheriff in Hamilton, backed up by the Ravalli County commissioners, elected not to enforce the order, saying individual rights took priority. That decision left small businesses stuck in the middle of a months-long national conflict over mask wearing as they try to keep staff safe and their doors open without alienating customers.

As someone who lives in Ravalli County, I was concerned about how people were not taking ANY precautions at all, when it came to protecting themselves and others from the virus. People almost acted like nothing was different, just business as usual. Then the cases started to surge and families, businesses and schools started getting affected. Now, you can see people starting to take it a little more seriously in the Bitterroot.

Take a moment to read the entire article from the NY Times, as they do a great job interviewing multiple business owners in Hamilton.

Also, while we are on the topic, Naps Grill recently closed after employees tested positive for COVID 19. After taking the necessary steps to re-open, they have announced that they are back open with limited hours of operation.

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