Power of Community Health

Public health and business growth aren’t at odds

By Maggie Doherty

The power of community health can’t be celebrated enough, and if you need numbers to prove the effectiveness of public health measures and vaccines, let me share this: There have been no cases of influenza reported in Montana at this time.

Now, isn’t that just awesome?

Did influenza magically disappear during the coronavirus surge? Certainly not. So, what’s kept the flu at bay?

The same things — the same seemingly minor actions — that we’re using to fight COVID-19. And clearly it’s working. Wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, staying home when you’re sick, getting the flu shot, and maintaining social distancing have resulted in a double-punch against both the flu and the coronavirus.

Go humans! We’re doing it, we did it, and we can keep doing it.

For some bizarre reason public health has been pitted against everything — the economy, personal freedom, national identity, when this could be furthest from the truth. Thanks to our tireless champions of community health, cities and towns across Montana are faring better without having to deal with a double whammy of influenza on top of the coronavirus epidemic. As a small business owner, my employees are healthier and have fewer sick days this year than in the past. That means we can be a more successful company, and if our employees are healthy, it generally means are customers are as well. Which then means we have patrons who can support our business, and we’re all, while wearing masks and keeping social distance, improving both our local economy and community health.

Public health and business growth aren’t at odds and, when working in concert, have massive benefits rippling across all corners of our state. As our state moves into the vaccination stage of the fight against the coronavirus, we can all do our part, again, through really easy steps for the average citizen, to ensure that we’re all working toward public health and a thriving economy. To me, this all equates to personal responsibility as a commitment to others.

If I am personally responsible, which I aim to be, I wear my mask in public, wash my hands frequently and take a break from the activities that keep me too close to those not in my household (a minor, short-term sacrifice) because I know that my own freedom is connected to the freedom, health and commitment of others.

The current stats of zero cases of influenza speak to the successful partnership between public health officials, medical professionals and all of us who joined together to take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. Good job, all.

We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but I think this is good news worth celebrating.

Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.

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