To the Editor:

In this day and age we will be tested individually and as a community in many different ways. The need for calm and unity is not anything new to many of us as we face the current worldwide medical crisis and its challenges, which will bring out the best and worst in people. Hopefully, more of the best in us than the latter. There will be many opportunities to learn and teach some lessons about good hygiene, civil conduct and especially how to be better prepared in the future for these events to our children. Thus making the glass half full versus being have empty.

Many of our children will be home from school. They will need care and attention that has up until now been provided by their school teachers, administrators and staff. Without a doubt, babysitters will be in high demand along with daycare programs. We, as parents, are tasked with training, educating, nurturing and proctoring our children. It can be an opportunity for parents who are able to work from home or need to be home with their children to open up new avenues and lines of communication with them. Experts suggest being honest and direct in answering children’s questions concerning the virus is paramount. A child must know that the threat of becoming ill themselves is real. They should also be made aware that the virus affects the elderly and those with health conditions related to weakened immune systems such as diabetes, pulmonary problems and cancers. And they should be sufficiently instructed and coached about the need to regularly wash their hands, good eating and sleeping habits and being considerate to others’ personal space to dramatically lessen a chance of infection from this virus and even the flu and the common cold going forward.

Outside or inside playing and entertainment are still an option for our children along with continuing and completing any school work that is presented to them. Managing both during this crisis may cause you to wonder how school instructors and administrators manage them seven hours each day, five days a week. It will be a good time to recognize that productive and successful homeschooling is really hard work and will now become a necessity for many families even if only temporarily. In this case your patience and skills will be tested.

The local economy will also suffer to some extent, hopefully, not for too long, and in keeping with President Trump’s task force recommendations leveling off a spike in the increase of outbreaks should release us from the grip of the virus and financial difficulties in weeks rather than months into the future. No one has a crystal ball but we need to be proactive.

Just as the medical community has very specific plans to curb the virus’s onslaught, the same effort should be extended to the financial difficulties we are facing at this time. Starting in our own backyards, we need to see our way to be rational and community-minded. The vendors, restaurants and businesses we normally frequent will need our support. It would be ludicrous to ask everyone to continue to think they can continue most routine visits to every establishment, however, calling for takeout and delivery service from our local businesses would certainly be helpful. These are the businesses that in most cases are owed by or employ our neighbors, friends and family. They are the people who regularly sponsor and support our sports and civic programs year and year out. Please continue to support them by purchasing their food and services as much as possible. Getting new tires, oil changes, having the lawn mower tuned up and bringing home a pizza will go a long way to keep the city humming. Another thought is to purchase gift certificates from restaurants, grocery stores, beauty salons, etc., to give to those who may need them because they are temporarily out of work.

Just as I have suggested in the past when we have bad weather keeps our elderly population homebound, we should reach out to them now during this medical crisis. A simple welfare check call not only assures they are OK but can allow you to discover if they need assistance. I am not advocating visiting unless it is medically necessary or to bring food, medicines and supplies, etc. while the virus is still very active. If necessary, they should be short visits. The friendship and outside contact even if by phone will, I believe, be very much appreciated. This practice should be not only for relatives but for those neighbors who you would generally only see and wave to when they are picking up their mail as you drive home from work or school and athletic events. Please don’t ignore the person(s) living next door or down the street.

The need to be thoughtful and civil must also be part of each neighborhood and the city at large. Our community-minded actions will be a good example for every child to witness. Politeness, courtesy, kindness and not hoarding or overstocking will give them a sense of how a community comes together in difficult times.

If you think you have the virus, first contact your doctor/clinic or hospital (211) for a telephone screening. Isolate yourself, and follow the medical advise you receive. Do not rush to any health facility requesting to be tested. It is the M.D., physician’s assistant or nurse who will listen to you and question you before authorizing a screening test. Remember it is calm and intelligence that will get us through this, not panic.

Please be safe, keep up exercise programs, eat healthy, listen for community alerts, don’t spread rumors (especially of doom) and remember we all make mistakes. Get over them, keep calm and move on.

Anthony F. Simonetti

Board of Aldermen, 1st Ward