By Pauline Kerr
The world has changed drastically in the course of a week. We have gone from a prosperous, happy community to one filled with dread.
Despite constant reassurances the supply chain is in fine working order, store shelves tell a different story. Shortages have become common, in a large part due to panic buying; some people are not so much responding to shortages but creating them.
We have learned a whole new language. Mere days ago, terms like self-isolating, social distancing, flattening the curve and practicing hand hygiene were used only by public health officials. Now we all use them.
We keep ourselves updated on the latest news regarding COVID-19 – not an easy task, with the situation changing by the hour. We are gratified to hear there will be provincial and federal assistance to individuals and businesses in desperate circumstances, but we wonder how the money will get to them in a timely manner.
The time has come to set aside the dread and start working together as a community to get through this thing.
For every idiot who is hoarding a huge stash of toilet paper and hand sanitizer in the garage, there are probably a dozen more who go and do the grocery shopping for their elderly neighbours who have been warned not to venture outside.
There are a lot of people sharing ideas via computer and telephone about how to keep the kids amused during this extended spring break. There are crafts to make, books to read, videos to watch, even educational sites to check out.
Folks are phoning each other, expressing genuine concern for their neighbours’ health and safety.
It has often been said that fire is the truest test of a substance. The very flames that consume soft matter will make steel stronger.
The strength of a community like this lies in our people. This is a generous community, and a close-knit one. Service clubs and community organizations are vibrant and accomplish great things. When there is a need, people pull together. We care about our neighbours and we look after them.
We need to remember who we are and what we are. Social isolation does not mean everyone has to look out for themselves to the detriment of others. It means we need to make an extra effort to look after our neighbours. We maintain a certain physical distance from people to protect them, and ensure the transmission of COVID-19 does not outpace the capacity of our health system to treat those who become very ill.
There is so much we can do, and need to do, that does not involve physical contact. The time has come to start thinking of new ways to help our community. It might be setting up a neighbourhood phone chain, dropping off items on someone’s porch, or holding a fundraiser. The challenge will be thinking outside the box to come up with ways to help while maintaining the social isolation that we know is necessary.
Can we meet the challenge? Of course. This is who we are.
The COVID-19 crisis is still in its early stages. In the coming days, additional people will be diagnosed with the virus, without a doubt, and many more will find themselves under quarantine. Many families will be struggling to pay their bills as they cope with the impact of two weeks with no or reduced income. Local businesses that were already struggling financially will be on the verge of closing their doors.
Wherever possible, we need to support our community by buying from local merchants, dealing with local service people, and contributing to local fundraisers. And we need to keep doing it after things shift back to normal, as they most certainly will.
Bravo to the grocers, pharmacists, general retailers and others who kept us supplied with goods under difficult circumstances. Bravo to the government officials, especially at the municipal level, who made difficult decisions and took necessary measures to protect us. And bravo to our community.