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Sweet Grass County residents weigh in on why there have been no state-confirmed cases of COVID-19

“I find it very hard to believe that there hasn’t been a case here."
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Posted at 12:40 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 15:11:56-04

BIG TIMBER — The streets of Big Timber are quiet, but that’s not uncommon for this small community on a Sunday afternoon.

Amy Smith has worked as the head chef at the Grand Hotel downtown for thirty years.

She says people in town know how to keep to themselves, which is why she believes the county has no state reported cases of COVID-19.

“We’ve had some tough winters over the last few years, so yeah, we are used to staying at home, sitting on the couch, taking up knitting, stuff like that,” said Smith.

Located in the corridors of I-90 and directly in the middle of both Gallatin and Yellowstone County, Sweet Grass County presents itself as an oasis, with zero state-reported cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

However, in the last few weeks, the community has seen its share of increased foot traffic.

“We’ve had our rodeo already and Sweet Grass Fest. That was two weeks ago so we’ll see if we’ve had a hit since then,” said Smith.

Doctor Nancy Snyderman is a former national medical correspondent and now lives in Big Timber where she runs her own business.

She’s not convinced Sweet Grass County is COVID-free.

“I find it very hard to believe that there hasn’t been a case here. I suspect that the zero case reflects more problems with contact tracings or just deficiencies in our public health,” said Snyderman. “I’m assuming that there are cases here. People either have been affected, but what concerns me more is the asymptomatic super spreader.”

And some say residents don’t seem too concerned.

Jocelyn Ott works at Earth Wise in downtown Big Timber. She says she hardly sees locals wearing masks or face coverings.

“There are not too many. It’s mostly tourists or like people from bigger cities,” said Ott.

“I worry that people from rural America have been lulled into thinking this is a big city problem,” said Snyderman. "In fact, we know that viruses do not respect counties or what car you’ve been in, or what transaction you’ve recently had.”