As I sit here trying to write my first column as managing director of Local First, three months into the job, the world is facing a pandemic. Whether we actually get hit hard by coronavirus or just the Corona Panic (I’ll explain the symptoms below), we know our economy and our community will be affected in some way.
However, as the coronavirus continues to spread and more information has become available, the Local First board and staff have decided it is best to postpone our third annual meeting to do our part in “flattening the curve” of the virus. What does flattening the curve mean?
As explained in The New York Times, taking control measures, such as handwashing, teleworking and limiting large gatherings can slow the spread of disease and reduce the burden on hospitals to a level that would lower and delay the epidemic peak. While we don’t want to cause unnecessary fear, we do believe in doing our part to prioritize the safety and health of our community.
As a community that tends to turn toward each other and create events out of hardship, we are moving into uncharted territory as we are asked to limit our time in social groups. Know that while we don’t know yet when this situation will end, we will do our best to play our role in stimulating the economy and creating local support during these difficult times.
At the time that I am writing this, we don’t have a single confirmed case of coronavirus in La Plata County, but we are definitely feeling the Corona Panic! Don’t let the Corona Panic affect you. Local First has put together a list of things you can do to support the community while staying safe:
1. First and foremost, take care of yourself. Wash your hands, keep up healthy habits like getting a full night’s sleep, eating healthy meals and staying active. Then wash your hands. Again.2. Social distancing is important for preventing any spread of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shop local. Buy gift cards from your favorite local businesses to use later, get to-go meals if you don’t feel comfortable sitting down, and shop during the slower hours if you want. Instead of ordering on Amazon, try calling a business and asking them to put your order together for you ahead of time and paying over the phone. Our businesses are the backbone of our community and they need our support.3. Stay informed. On platforms where everyone has a voice, there is an overwhelming amount of information and misinformation out on the web. Look to San Juan Basin Public Health for your accurate, up-to-date info.4. If you are not part of the high-risk population, realize that you might have the Corona Panic. Some of the symptoms include hoarding toilet paper, buying unnecessary amounts of nonperishable food, and locking yourself in your house until you lose your mind. Don’t worry, the Corona Panic is completely treatable. Consider donating your overstocked supplies to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, homeless shelters, or other high-risk communities. If your neighbor is high-risk, consider offering to help with their grocery shopping. Most importantly, remember we are human and in this together. And wash your hands.Shop local, eat local and support local in whatever way that makes sense to you. But don’t let fear rule your actions. Our community is what makes this place so special, and now, more than ever, we must turn toward one another (at a safe distance, of course).
Stay healthy, Durango.
Kiki Hooton is managing director of Local First in Durango. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.