Butte Community in COVID-19 Times
There’s no doubt that the Butte community is committed to making their city a great place to live. Even in times of crisis or distress such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, the people of Butte work together to help each other and support local businesses. At Montana Connections, we recognize how special it is to live in such a supportive community. Here are a few of our favorite stories on resilience in our small but mighty northwestern town.
At the end of March, Montana Governor, Steve Bullock, declared a stay at home order causing all non-essential businesses to close their doors to walk-in traffic due to COVID-19. For towns like Butte full of hard-working, local businesses this was extremely difficult. Luckily, thanks to the innovative spirit of Montanans, many of these businesses were able to make pivots and come up with creative ideas that kept them in business through this tough time. At the end of April, Governor Bullock announced a plan to reopen Montana in phases, allowing over 1,000 Butte businesses and churches to open back up. The Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Reopening Butte-Silver Bow Community Call” to help businesses understand the new rules and succeed in reopening. These rules include keeping customers six feet apart when possible and staying home if ill, among others. Upon the completion of a “social distancing plan” that can be found on the county’s website, these companies are back in business and waiting with open arms to receive the in-person support of the Butte community. Butte is often known for the biggest and best “grand openings” when new businesses open in town, and we are certain this excitement will carry on into this new type of grand opening as businesses begin to turn their lights on and unlock their doors once again.
Like the businesses described above, the favorite local distillery for business people and college students alike, Headframe Spirits, had to close its tasting room doors to the public in late March. While their products are still sold in liquor stores across the country, they decided they had the capability to do more. Seeing the demand for hand sanitizer rise, especially in the healthcare field, owners Courtney and John McKee decided to begin producing some. Working with Philipsburg Brewing Company, Butte-Silver Bow and Southwest Montana Community Health Center they were able to produce and distribute over 100 gallons of FDA-approved hand sanitizer to critical groups such as medical facilities, nursing homes and first responders.
The timing of the COVID-19 pandemic means the breaking of many Butte traditions such as the famous Saint Patrick’s Day celebration, the Montana Folk Festival and even the Fourth of July parade. The community, however, has found a way to be sure to celebrate the graduation of its many university and high school students. While the Montana Tech in-person graduation ceremony was canceled, a committee is working hard to develop an alternative celebration. Both Butte High School and Butte Central held live graduation ceremonies with social distancing precautions. Read this article for more information on 2020 graduations in Butte and how the community is coming alongside students to celebrate their accomplishments.
Mental Health Services
One of the largest, unseen impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is its stress on mental health. From job loss to fear of sickness and being stuck inside for days, many people are experiencing extreme stress, causing an uptick in anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. Luckily, the Southwest Montana Community Health Center is ready with counselors on hand to help adults and children in this time of need. These counselors are able to see people over the internet or in person. The center is also working on developing zoom support and wellness groups to bring people together and encourage the feeling of community to continue, even while we are all inside.