Here are just a few examples of how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is changing the fabric of our everyday lives in Missoula.

Shopping for food and essential supplies is becoming an adventure.

At 7:30 on Friday night at Costco in Missoula, we encountered several families with young children looking for staples such as bread, macaroni and cheese and toilet paper.

There was some selection, but the bounty usually found at that reliable and helpful store was greatly reduced. One of the employees, when asked if there was any toilet paper, she simply smiled and said no. Another said it was nearly a record day for sales, with lines that went to the back of the store.The meat displays were nearly empty, as aisles that are normally loaded with food, were reduced.

Heading to the theater for a break from the chaos is changing, as well.

The AMC theaters are only allowing a maximum of 50 percent capacity to give more room between patrons, thus reducing the risk of passing on the virus.

A Carousel for Missoula is closed through March 25 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

'Carousel to close for 10 days amid CoVid-19 concerns

The board of directors of A Carousel for Missoula has voted to close the Carousel and Dragon Hollow for 10 days, from Monday, March 16, through Wednesday, March 25, as a precautionary measure for COVID-19. The decision to close comes after reviewing the guidelines for preventing spread of the virus from CDC and the Missoula City-County Health Department. After careful consideration, the board of directors determined that it is not feasible to adequately clean and disinfect high-traffic areas, such as the carousel ponies and playground equipment, as thoroughly and frequently as would be necessary to effectively protect patrons and employees. The board will continue to monitor the situation and determine over the course of the next 10 days whether safeguards can be established to allow for re-opening or whether the Carousel and Dragon Hollow will remain closed for a further period of time.

“It was really difficult for the board to make this decision, knowing how much this community counts on us for entertainment, particularly during spring break.” says Executive Director Theresa Cox, “but it has always been our highest priority to take care of our visitors and our employees.

“Safety is the most important consideration at the Carousel. Usually that means making sure everyone is buckled up and monitored when riding. In this case, it means we do our part to mitigate transmission of the virus in this time of uncertainty.”

While there were no confirmed cases of the virus in the state at the time of the decision, the board agreed the Carousel needed to continue to be a leader in the community and to protect the safety of children and their grownups.

Kimberly Roth, ACFM Board President adds, “Visitors of all ages come to the Carousel each day; they touch the same things and stand closely together in line. We cannot completely sanitize the Carousel between rides, much less keep the rest of the building and Dragon Hollow equipment clean.

“Even though children do not yet seem to be greatly affected by the virus, those kids come with their families, which often include grandparents, who are in a high risk category.

“We are doing our part to keep people safe, so they can return to ride another day.”

The Carousel board and staff appreciate the community’s support, and regret the inconvenience this decision will cause for many families who rely on the Carousel and Dragon Hollow for affordable entertainment. The board will monitor conditions and issue further statements as decisions are made.

The Carousel has also postponed the annual Ride-a-Thon fundraiser until the situation improves. Donations to offset expenses associated with keeping people safe are welcome at www.carouselformissoula.com/donate or by sending a check made out to ACFM to PO Box 3345, Missoula, MT 59806.

The Downtown Missoula Partnership has published guidelines for its members to help in the effort, as well.

‘Generally, we want to do all we can to reduce the spread of the disease by practicing good hygiene; reducing travel, events, and other group engagements; handling food & beverages carefully; keeping surfaces clean and disinfected; and staying home if you’re sick or have sick family members.

The Downtown Missoula Partnership will continue to monitor and share pertinent information regarding COVID-19 in Missoula, and we will assess the need to cancel future meetings and events.

We will continue to sell Downtown Gift Cards from our office, but remind you they can be purchased online here: https://www.missouladowntown.com/downtown-gift-card/. We are happy to mail or deliver orders in the near future and request transactions in the office at 218 East Main are made via credit card in order to reduce the exchange of cash.

Thank you for caring about our community and its people.

Linda K. McCarthy

Executive Director’

At Southgate Mall, all the Easter Bunny activities have been cancelled, as well as Saturday's Kids Fair.

Are there other examples you’d like to share? Please add them to this message on our Facebook page.

For the foreseeable future, things will be different in Missoula and throughout western Montana.

Although having a two-week supply of food is recommended, please don’t hoard. Leave something on the shelves for others, and if you know of families with young children or seniors who are in need, please share what you can.

Thank you.