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An abnormally challenging time of a public health crisis

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

When we Americans make it through the COVID-19 pandemic as a viable group, how do we want to remember the time it overtook our nation and our planet, and the way we responded to it? Will we think about how we had to pull back from those around us and bond with our families? Or maybe we will remember the leadership that steered our towns, states and the country in one direction or another.

It would be welcome to be able to consider our actions as a nation and a region to be thoughtful, humane and supportive of each other. As the federal government continues to act as if virus testing and protective gear for medical workers is widely available, those medical professionals who are working to protect their neighbors day by day see a different world to this point. Maybe this will change in the next couple of weeks, but the spread of the virus while the federal government decides what it will do to help its constituents has proven debilitating to those at the front lines, both as patients and health care workers.

The actions of state and local governments have been more direct and helpful. That should not be surprising, as these representatives actually live with and see their constituents on a regular basis. They live among us, and they and their families will be directly affected by the actions they take or do not take. It all becomes so personal, rather than theoretical.

But to their credit, it must be said that Connecticut’s senators and U.S. House representatives are responding with reason. Sen. Chris Murphy made it clear he believes that leaders in Washington are concentrating too much on the economic stimulus approach and too little on containing the spread of the virus. That should indeed be the government’s priority if it is to serve its people responsibly.

Could this rapidly spreading virus be a way for nature to curb the contempt humans have shown for the health of the planet? Does that seem too far-fetched, too based in sci fi or Stephen King plots (see his novel, “The Stand”)? The result of the forced economic halt has been an immediate improvement in the environment worldwide. While it doesn’t seem it can or should last, it does seem that we as humans can learn something very meaningful from this crisis.

In the meantime, let’s all be aware of our neighbors and their health and challenges. If you remain healthy and mobile and see a way to help older people in your sphere who are not either, find a way to do that. Keep track of what your community leaders are asking of you and those around you, and be considerate and mindful of how you can be part of the solution to this public health crisis. Thank a medical worker, a supermarket cashier and yes, even a public servant who is doing what should be done to help others through this extremely difficult time. Support your local businesses as much as possible. They are trying to make it through some impossible challenges.

And try to be well. If we all behave as if we believe we all already have the coronavirus, and keep distance, stay away from crowds, sanitize and be very careful with every action we take, we just may make it through this diminished but unified in facing it as a nation, because, as our leaders say, we are all in this together.

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