Stay home, it only makes sense

Thursday, March 26, 2020
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I hate going anywhere. I’m a 39-year-old curmudgeon.

I don’t like going shopping. I don’t like going to concerts. I don’t like going to the movies.

I don’t like leaving my house.

This was not always the case. I used to be on the go all the time, but my energy level and discretionary budget have both diminished as my kids and I have gotten older. My teenage boys eat so much more than they did when they were in grade school.

Due to my hermit status, social distancing and self quarantines do not intimidate me. I could literally stay home for a month before boredom kicks in.

What does scare me is a severe illness, but not an illness of my own. I’m a relatively healthy person, and I rarely get sick (knock on wood), but I don’t want to carry any type of illness into my home, because I don’t want my parents to get sick.

A common cold can wreak havoc on the household, so COVID-19 is something I’m watching closely.

According to a 2013 U.S. Centers for Disease Control study, 4.2% of the 34,426 respondents surveyed had been told by a medical professional they had a weakened immune system. This means they could have a chronic health condition like diabetes or heart disease or they may have an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.

If we apply 4.2% to the population of Big Horn County we get roughly 561 people with a weakened immune system. That may not seem like a lot, but let’s take the Montana Department of Health and Human Services data into account.

As of 2018, 63% of Montanans are living with one chronic illness and 37% are living with two.

I took the liberty of doing that math for the area and roughly 8,417 people in Big Horn County have a chronic illness and 4,942 have two chronic illnesses.

DPHHS reported that 13.6% of the county has Diabetes, that translates to about 1,817 people.

These numbers are well over the CDC study’s numbers, and it just goes to show you that a large portion of our population is at risk. Factors like race, average age and access to healthcare can all affect the rate of chronic illness in our area.

But think about it. There are potentially almost 8,500 people who are in danger of a severe illness and we still have people not adhering to federal, state and county mandates to stay home or maintain a six-foot or more radius from others.

God only knows how hard it is for some people to keep proper handwashing at the forefront of their minds.

Nearly 8,500 are at a higher risk than the rest of the over 13,000 people in the county. So for their sake stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go somewhere. If you do go somewhere maintain your six-foot radius. Don’t be afraid to ask people to maintain their distance. It’s not disrespectful right now to not offer a handshake or a hug, it’s actually imperative that you don’t offer.

This too shall pass, but while we wait be a good neighbor, be a good friend, be a good citizen and do your part to stay at home.

The newspaper office is closed to the public for the time being, but we are still there conducting regular business via telephone 406- 665-1008, or email us at You can find us on facebook under Big Horn County News.

If you are feeling silly, we can talk to each other through the mail slot.