To say that our lives have changed in a matter of a few weeks is an understatement. To think we’re going to go back to normal in three weeks is wishful, naive thinking. The coronavirus wave that’s left death in its wake is now at our doorstep in the valley, with at least nine positive cases reported — three in Shenandoah County, four in Frederick County and two in Warren County. So far, nine people have died in Virginia since the first case was reported on March 7. The number of cases is now close to 400.
Virginia’s schools are closed, non-essential businesses have been shuttered, gatherings of 10 or more people have been banned, and we’re all worrying if there’s going to be toilet paper and eggs the next time we venture out for groceries. Some of us have washed our hands so much they’re feeling dry and a bit chapped, and we’re all worried about how we’re going to find bleach and hand sanitizer to kill something we can’t see that threatens our life and our livelihood, that keeps us jailed in our homes and has added a frisson of fear whenever we get too close to others.
The devastation this tiny virus causes will be long-lasting. It’s going to impact every aspect of our lives. It’s mind-numbing to see our once-robust economy flailing and our local nonprofits hurting financially.
While we’re struggling to understand our situation during our isolation, we also need to think about what we can do now to help our community when the threat lessens and we can venture out. For instance, meet or help a neighbor — from a distance. Keep in touch with friends and family who are also hunkered down in their homes by phone, online video or by written letters.
If you can, donate to your favorite charity, foster a cat or a dog from one of the shelters, and please support the local businesses in our community. I’m not just talking about your daily newspaper — though we do appreciate your loyalty — but please remember the local businesses that gave your kids or grandkids their first jobs and the business owners who have donated to local nonprofits and sponsored local events.
Our local businesses — many of them owned by our neighbors — are hurting and need our help.
If you’re hungry and don’t want to cook, some local restaurants are offering curbside pickup or home delivery. Other non-food-related businesses may also still be able to deliver what you need or will bring it out to your car. We’re going to need these small businesses and if we don’t support them now, they may not survive to support us later.
One last note, whenever you do emerge from self-isolation, be sure to thank our local heroes for putting themselves in the line of danger while serving us — the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals — including veterinary clinic and pharmacy workers; police, firefighters and other responders; restaurant workers, grocery store and others working in all of the “essential” stores and businesses; the truck drivers; government officials and local, state and federal workers; the nonprofits and our religious leaders. I’ve probably left so many professions out of this list, but you will know a hero when you meet one.
I do have one more group to thank — our newspaper, radio, and television journalists who put their health on the line every day to keep us informed about what is happening in our local towns and counties, our state, in our nation’s capital, the virus hot spots in New York and Italy, as well as rest of the world.
Linda O’Dell Ash is editor
of The Northern Virginia Daily