How We Continue

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Stay the course, we’re advised by federal, state and local officials as we count the long days in North Carolina’s Stay-at-Home order. Stay safe. Stay well. Stay Home!

In many places, physical distancing has flattened the curve and it appears our diligence is helping in North Carolina, but…shouldn’t we be thinking about how we live beyond this initial outbreak? Sure, we know we need to take care and share love, but what about returning to business as usual? It’s time for us to redefine “as usual” and how we live this summer and fall. 

Rather than marching on city hall demanding businesses and schools be opened, bars and restaurants as well, we can create the how of how we continue. Some actions are fairly easy. Social distancing will continue to be wise. 

Be cautious with your health. Continue to protect it as you did your children, your parents, and yourself during the stay-at-home order. Keep the daily walk you added when the gym closed. Nourish your body with the fresh produce it wants, and remember, our local farmers need you to buy. Enjoy that healthy mix you fell into of reading and streaming comedies. 

Return to your sacred spaces. Sit – leaving adequate room between you and the next person – and pass the peace (sign). Help it become our victory sign – our victory against the coronavirus. 

We remember friends and loved ones who died during this pandemic. Our hearts are full.

We’re thankful for our health and well-being. Last week at the grocery, I said “how ya doing?” to the man in line six feet behind me. He replied, “every day I wake up is a good one.” 

Yes, it is. And there’s work for all of us.

Join your community to create new economic models. Your friends and neighbors, small business owners, colleges and schools – all need your help recreating the new paths for commerce, schooling and health care. Always with an eye toward safe public health. The virus may linger into the summer or return in the fall, which means we need safe ways to continue our lives. 

Social distancing could mean fewer students in classrooms, or hybrid delivery of both secondary and higher education. Telemedicine could become more routine in our health care systems. These modalities will change dramatically for better preparedness in the next crisis. We know the flaws. We’ll learn from the past to prepare for the future. 

Much of our economy tanked. Jobs disappeared nearly overnight as businesses closed, and sadly, some won’t reopen. Supply chains were interrupted, some destroyed, all tested nearly to the breaking point. We need new collaborations that work up and down the chain regardless of where you live or how much money you make. We must begin our search for creative solutions when it comes to problems in food, health, safety and employment. We need new jobs. 

Many low-wage workers were among the first to lose jobs when only essential businesses were allowed to be open. Servers, cashiers, retail sales associates, travel agents, stagehands and roadies, baggage handlers, thousands employed in the concessions and entertainment industry.

We need jobs that pay a living wage. 

The restaurant industry was hit hard by coronavirus. We’re now told that some of our favorite eateries won’t return, others will be dramatically different — tables arranged to allow diners more space or time-specific seatings with time limits in which to enjoy one’s meal. Local, small businesses may fail. Large corporate entities have reserves to sustain them. 

It’s possible that college and professional sports may change from stadiums with near-capacity crowds to playing in empty venues with team members who were tested for the virus that morning. Rather than buying season tickets to the Panthers or the Deacons, you’ll buy pay-per-view games, host small watch parties, and generate revenue that’s shared among the teams, the advertisers, and the television stations.

This pandemic emphasized our nation’s inequities in physical and mental health care, employment, Internet access, and food security. It’s not like we didn’t know these problems existed, but we’ve been made to see them more clearly. 

We have an opportunity to address them with justice, love and grace. 

Let’s do it! 

Kate M. Carey writes from Lexington and Surf City, NC.

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