Over the last few months our hearts and prayers have been with those affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus around the world. The high death toll and medical challenges in China and Italy have been particularly heartbreaking to see in the news.
But now this dreaded coronavirus is in the U.S. Not just in big cities like Seattle, which has seen double digit-deaths, but also here where I live in James City County, located in the Tidewater region of Virginia.
On Friday our county declared a state of emergency after 7 cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed, including a teacher’s assistant in one of our elementary schools.
On Saturday a gentleman in James City County died from COVID-19 related respiratory distress, the first coronavirus death in the state of Virginia (may his soul R.I.P.) His case was from “unknown sources” which means there is community spread here. As of Tuesday there are 12 confirmed cases in our county – one of the highest numbers in our state tied with Fairfax, a county of 1 million+ in Northern Virginia.
We are a smallish county of 76,000 compared to Fairfax and populous municipalities in our state. Virginians in big cities are wondering why our county has been hit so hard by the COVID-19 coronavirus.
James City County may be small, but we are part of a hospitable tourist town that hosts over 1 million visitors every year. Folks come from all over the world to visit Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown (site of the 1st English settlement in 1607), Busch Gardens, and a host of nearby touristy places.
The College of William and Mary, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the U.S. (Thomas Jefferson went there back in the day), hosts a wide array of vibrant activities and international visitors.
This area is also highly sought after for retirement with a plethora of gated residential communities and 15 senior living communities. Lots of these well-heeled retirees enjoy international travel.
The emergency response from our state, district and county authorities has been swift.
Universities, schools, libraries, museums, tourist areas, churches, and businesses – most everything here is closed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
But, some folks are complaining and not taking the threat seriously.
This is not the flu. It spreads exponentially, that’s why large gatherings across every sector in the U.S. have been cancelled at the cost of billions. While most of us will survive COVID-19 without much difficulty, the vulnerable in our community will not.
The vulnerable include young and old with autoimmune challenges, asthma, and the precious elderly in our midst. Staying in and not allowing this coronavirus to spread protects them.
Missing my precious Mama and Papa, it hurts my heart to hear folks disrespecting the elderly. But it’s not just the elderly who are vulnerable. There are young people on ventilators in Italy right now gasping for their lives.
That’s why we must do our part not just by washing our hands, but also helping calloused hearts wash away prejudice and indifference to the vulnerable.
There’s never been a time when what we do – or not do – can so affect others.
“Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for Me.” Jesus
So what can we do?
+Follow public health guidelines from state and local leaders. While I disagree with one or two political policies of Ralph Northam, the governor of Virginia, for such times as these it is reassuring to have an accomplished medical doctor as our leader.
+ Practice social distancing. Avoid groups of 10 or more. Stay in as much as possible. Work from home. Order takeout from restaurants (avoid dining out.) Sanitize hands with 60%+ alcohol based sanitizer or (even better) 20 seconds with soap and water. Clean counters, doorknobs and high use objects with Clorox wipes and disinfectant sprays.
+Stock up on supplies like love, hope, peace and compassion.
+Open pocketbooks to help those who can’t get to daily wage jobs, children without school lunches, local foodbanks, and groups that help the vulnerable.
+Pick up groceries and supplies for elderly and vulnerable friends and neighbors.
+Reach out to friends who may feel isolated and alone stuck at home.
+Support small businesses by ordering things online.
+Support local health workers and medical professionals in every way possible.
+Support scientists and medical researchers seeking a cure and vaccine.
+Wash our hands (once again.)
+PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! & LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!
“Care is being with, crying out with, suffering with, feeling with. Care is compassion. It is claiming the truth that the other person is my brother or sister, human, mortal, vulnerable, like I am.” Henri Nouwen
grace, peace & compassionate LOVE