The more than 800 people who logged in to a virtual county town hall meeting Wednesday night saw glimmers of hope and heard cautionary tales about the COVID-19 pandemic that has unstrung life in our mountain towns. While a welcome tonic of solidarity, the meeting could not dispel the dangers of the viral menace.

Much remains to be done.

Business closures, social distancing and staying at home may continue to slow the virus, but they won’t stop it. It will surely rebound at some point. Until there’s more data on how long survivor immunity may last and until scientists develop a vaccine, we will have to continue changes in our work and lifestyles.

Human nature being what it is, we will need help to do so.

Essential businesses need the valley’s city councils and mayors to put ordinances in place to help them protect workers and customers.

Food stores, pharmacies and construction sites, for example, need ordinances that require face coverings, gloves and social distancing for customers, protective gear for workers and standards for sanitizing equipment and worksites.

Such measures would reduce the risk of infection significantly. Business owners need to be able to say more than “please” to get customers and workers to adopt new habits. They need the backing of local laws and funding for supplies.

Closed local businesses also need local restrictions to help fight off competitors from outside the county that may actively be delivering goods that closed shops may not.

Also, local elected officials need to discourage visitors—including vacation-home owners—from coming here while they are trying to put out this blazing viral fire in Idaho’s coronavirus hotspot.

We must muster all the personal, political, legal and organizational strength we have to come out of this trial unbowed and with strength enough to put mountain life back together again.

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