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Rural Montana’s mask problem

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Town Crier “Briefs from the Region” (2) – 10/21/20

In small town Montana, Hamilton included, you’ll see more people without masks on, than with. It’s hard to believe there’s still a pandemic. While Gov. Steve Bullock on July 15 mandated the use of face coverings to curb the spread of COVID-19, the sheriff in Hamilton, backed up by the Ravalli County commissioners, elected not to enforce the order, favoring the individual rights of their citizens. Nicki Ransier, owner of River Rising Bakery, told the New York Times that although this takes the pressure off of her employees to enforce the rule themselves, many have been harassed by patrons and she feels torn between eliminating confrontations, and protecting her community.

“We have a lot of older customers,” Ransier said. “And in my heart, I was just like, ‘What if I were to get Bob—the man who sits out front every day—or someone sick?’ I would just feel horrible.”

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