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Health Department Recommends Social Distancing To Prevent Coronavirus


March 18, 2020 | View PDF

The Richland County Health Department is advancing efforts to prevent coronavirus in our community.

“Right now, we are a step ahead of coronavirus. We don’t have cases here yet. We want to make it slow to get here, to protect our vulnerable populations, and allow us more time to have a coordinated response. We’re not sick, and we’re trying not to get sick,” said Julie Brodhead, RN, communicable disease nurse at the Health Department.

On Thursday, March 12, Governor Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency in Montana. “The emergency order puts our state on the highest alert — recognizing, though, that now still is the time to continue to plan, not panic,” Bullock said in a news conference. Bullock later issued a statement closing all Montana schools for two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Health Department is recommending that people begin practicing social distancing. Social distancing is a prevention effort where community members physically separate from each other to prevent or slow the spread of disease. It has been shown that social distancing in the early stages of an outbreak is effective in preventing or slowing the spread of communicable disease.

The Health Department is recommending that groups consider cancelling or postponing large group gatherings. Many organizations have already taken these precautions by cancelling scheduled events and meetings. If your group chooses to continue to meet during this time, group members should be considerate of protecting themselves and others. This means staying home when you are sick, avoiding handshakes and other close contact, and washing hands frequently.

Monitor yourself for symptoms of illness. If you develop a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider. If you do not have a provider, call the Sidney Health Center Walk-In Clinic at 406-488-3963.

If you have questions about the coronavirus, call the Richland County Health Department’s Information Line at 406-433-6947. You may access important links on the Health Department’s coronavirus webpage at For the most updated information about COVID-19 in Montana, visit the Montana DPHHS webpage at


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