Editor’s note: Washington Court House City Manager Joe Denen submitted the following to the Record-Herald as an appeal to the community as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
We approach the holiday season with anticipation of the joy that renewing family bonds brings to us all. Like many of us, I have grown weary of the virus news. I yearn for a return to mental and physical normalcy; however, like you, I know that we have a duty to perform for the benefit of the whole community, our families and/or friends.
We know what should be done. We understand what social distancing is. The necessity of hand washing, or the use of hand sanitizer, is now second nature. The advisability of mask wearing or the use of other facial coverings is not new news.
I have no desire to argue the political nature of the virus question. We hear and experience division in our public lives all to often. I am writing to ask you to again rededicate your attention to slowing the virus.
Nearly all of us know a person that has become ill with Covid-19. Fortunately, many of those illnesses have been mild. Unfortunately, a growing number of us have had the experience of losing a friend, co-worker, or family member to this disease.
I recognize that hand washing, masks and social distancing are not technological wonder weapons in our struggle with Covid-19; however, these sanitary practices are the tools we have at hand. Locally, we are experiencing an apparent upswing in virus spread. Therefore, I now ask you to help protect yourself, your family, our community and our economy by doing what you can do to help.
Wash your hands, keep your distance and increase use of your mask. Shop locally and limit travel outside of our community and be especially careful around elderly people or people with health issues that increase their risk of illness. Do not live in fear — live with the empowerment that you can and are making a difference.
While the holiday season will lift our spirits, the season presents challenges and choices. Family in times of distress and uncertainty is a powerful source of strength; however, if we completely disregard virus precautions this holiday season, we may expose our families, our very source of strength, to the illness we seek to defeat.
I am worried about the approaching holiday season. I think about my parents, uncles, aunts and others. I think about the time lost in personally seeing these people these past several months. I despair at the thought of smaller or more radically changed family celebrations.
I will not presume to tell you what to do. The goal is getting more people to adopt simple if inconvenient virus precautions. Telling you what to do is not likely to get the desired result. People naturally resist bureaucratic regulation and in consequence we drown in debate.
We have this spring, summer and fall argued enough for the next decade. The hour for argument has passed. The hour for composed thought and action is upon us. All that I ask is that you reevaluate your attention to virus precautions. This holiday season please think about how your family will address the need to limit the virus threat.
The virus has complicated our personal lives, our work lives and delivered to many sickness and to some death. To those families that have suffered loss, I offer condolences. I ask you to renew your dedication to virus precautions so that the risk of suffering to your family and friends may be limited.
You, not the government, or social media, or the news media can make a difference. You make choices every day. Do I pause and wash my hands? Am I impatient in the line at the grocery and crowd closer to the person in front of me? Do I have virus symptoms that I am ignoring? Choice after choice, daily a multitude of opportunity to make a difference.
I understand that not all choices are simple. Childcare has presented many families with hard practical choices. Who stays home with quarantined children? How do we adjust to changes in the school’s schedule? Is it safe for grandparents to care for children? Those choices are hard choices and many families do not have an abundance of options.
While a vaccine offers hope and our local Health Department prepares every day for the arrival of a safe and effective vaccine, we must bridge the gap. Further, even after a vaccine begins to be available, the need to maintain virus precautions will remain for some time into our future.
Not an endless future of illness and deprivation, but a realization that closing the chapter on Covid-19 will require our cooperative efforts.
Let us be thankful that we have the blessings of family and friends. Thankful that simple tools and the discipline to use those tools offers a means to do battle with the virus. Thankful that local doctors, nurses and hospitals have gained valuable experience treating people ill with the virus.
I am thankful for you, thankful that you care, thankful for your calm, thankful for your grit. I ask you to please make a difference.