As I write this, the citizens of our communities and our country have made significant alterations to their lifestyles. We are thirsty for answers and hungry for resolve. However, there remains great uncertainty over the course of the foreseeable future.
COVID-19 is continuing to extend its path across our public. As of this writing, there are more than 8,000 cases confirmed in the United States with 35 of those cases being in our Commonwealth. There are still many tests that are pending, which means that more cases will likely be confirmed in the coming days. This virus is real and the effects of it are rippling across the fabric of our country, forcing schools to suspend their academic years, businesses to deny patrons entry, employees to work from home, and has led to the postponement and cancellation of many sporting events. There have been athletes and celebrities that have tested positive. Simply put, this virus is affecting various platforms and people from all walks of life.
After seeing the trends in rising cases, I made the decision to close our city hall to the public last Friday until March 31. I realize I may have been the first in our county to make such a call, but felt it was in the best interest of our community and the employees of our city to do so. Many of the people who enter city hall are those who are more at risk should they become infected with the virus. Regardless of the likelihood of someone becoming infected, if closing the building to the public lowers that risk even further then that is what I was going to do — and I did.
We are still able to do the essential functions that the city requires during this isolation. Water/sewer payments can be made through the drop box at the front entrance and the phones are still working for those who have other inquiries. In all likelihood, this closure will be extended until such time that the risk has subsided, but we will still be able to serve you during this time.
This weekend we were supposed to see the college basketball world filled with the excitement and heartbreak that the NCAA tournament brings each year with its March Madness. Like many of you, I was looking forward to finding a path to UK’s 9th National Title while also bracing for another early exit. Unfortunately, we will never know how far the Cats would’ve gone (or what Cinderella team would’ve knocked Duke out in the round of 32). This is just one example of how our plans have changed as a result of COVID-19.
So, what can we do during this time? Are we to remain bunkered down in our homes? Can we not carry on a conversation with a friend or family member without being afraid of becoming infected? Remember, this virus has caused us to temporarily change our lives, not stop living them. What can we do? That is up to each of us to decide based upon the free will with which God has endowed us, but here is what I would recommend.
First and foremost, let’s pray. Remember, while church buildings may be closed to the congregation, the actual church is the congregation that attends it. You don’t have to be in a church building to worship freely. You can read your Bibles at home, and even do a lesson with your family. This is another great attribute about America.
Speaking of family, spend quality time with them. Enjoy a home-cooked meal and eat dinner at the table like a family should. Talk about things that you’ve been putting off for a while. Bring up funny memories. Play a video game with your kids or throw a ball around in the back yard. Talk to your kids about what’s going on and give them a sense of peace that everything will be fine — because it will.
Remember those who are at risk. This includes “older” individuals (60 and up), those with other adverse health conditions, and expectant mothers. See how they are doing and ask if there is anything you can do for them. These people may be in your family or they may be a neighbor.
There is another important factor to also consider: Your local businesses. Many restaurants are open for curb-side pick-up or drive-thru service. So, if you’re not in the mood to cook, can’t cook, or the grocery store doesn’t have something you need to complete a meal then call in an order for pickup.
You may also want to consider taking advantage of lower interest rates and calling your loan officer at your bank about refinancing your loan. Better yet, perhaps you can call a realtor about a property you’ve been watching for a while, or maybe calling a local contractor about a new construction or an addition that you’ve been putting off because of other time constraints. There are many ways to support your local businesses during this downtime, and they need our support. Small businesses are the heartbeat of America, and many are in our county. We can neither afford to lose them nor can they afford to lose us as customers.
In closing, I want to reiterate that this virus is serious, but it doesn’t mean you have to panic. We are not at that point, and I don’t believe that we will be. When we panic, our hope becomes lost and our faith is shaken. Don’t let that happen. Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. As I finish this letter, it is cloudy and rain is hitting my window, but I know that the sun will shine again. It’s a reminder that our brighter days are ahead of us.
I appreciate the opportunity to serve you in my public capacity