We are in uncharted waters and whether we like it or not, we are all in this together.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed everything and looking forward, it will likely have effects that may define a generation.
It certainly has helped to define this community.
It is very encouraging to see our community respond the way it has. People are isolating themselves and are using social distancing to avoid transmission. Those returning from a winter south are going into a self-imposed quarantine, as recommended by the authorities. Children are staying home from school, public meetings have been postponed, businesses have reduced operations to limit public exposure and enhance staff and public safety, and we see church services occurring online. People are staying off the road and park use is limited. I’ve heard that some people wishing to maintain their regular social networks are having happy hours online.
But even more uplifting is the community response in terms of looking out for each other. People are calling friends and neighbours on the phone to make sure things are okay. For isolated seniors this can be an enormous benefit and a terrific uplift to the day. Ad hoc groups have been formed to run errands, pick up prescriptions and deliver groceries for others. Non-profit groups are leading the charge and have organized their activities to support our community. Well done you guys! We even see posts on Facebook where people are offering to help others; now isn’t that a real change from what we often see in social media?
There is a community emerging that is compassionate and caring, and this is very gratifying to see. That’s what a community is all about.
We are in this thing together and need to support each other to come out the other side, together.
At the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, staff are working from home to maintain essential services like drinking water, solid waste management, recycling, development services, fire suppression and so on. Our last board meeting had about half of the directors participating online so we could maintain adequate social distancing in the boardroom.
In the community I see people in essential occupations remaining on the job. It is interesting to note the re-definition of “essential occupation” isn’t it? Local grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and restaurants have remained open, but thankfully and respectfully, have altered their operations so as to enhance safety for staff and their customers. Let’s be sure to express our appreciation to those people. And let’s be sure to support our local businesses every way we can.
The school district has initiated a learning from home plan and has emailed information to parents. The provincial and federal governments have initiated a large number of informational and financial support services and programs.
Please be sure to rely on bona fide sources of information to help you and your family stay safe. The best sites to go to are COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information and the BC Centre for Disease Control. Toll-free phone lines, 1-888-268-4319 or 1-888-COVID19, are open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week for non-medical information and access to provincial and federal support services.
These are challenging times and we do need to help each other get through this thing. This is a time to define our community as being a safe, caring and compassionate place to live.
-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District