By Doug Lemon
In this unprecedented season of trial and uncertainty, the citizens of our community are eager to hear and read more from local leaders concerning our preparedness (or lack thereof) for the pandemic which is sweeping across our nation and our state. Kosciusko County has been my home for the whole of my 50 years. There are lots of reasons for that. One of those is that I have considered it a privilege to raise my family in a place filled with folks of resilient, gracious, proactive backbone. We’ll get through this, I’m sure.
But we all have questions that matter. And those questions don’t just matter because we’re a bunch of rubber-necking curiosity seekers, but because we want to be prepared – not only for ourselves and our families but for those in need around us. Kosciusko County is a place with people who will rise to any challenge, bear tremendous sacrifice and shoulder whatever burden that may come. But to those very people, information is power. And that’s why this community would gladly suspend any interest in “who got busted for pot last Friday” for more news and information that can help us prepare for what might be coming. Everybody’s glued to the national news. But, regrettably, that tends to come off as something that’s happening “somewhere else.” Our fine area residents want and need to get more invested right here at home. We care.
Therefore, it is a matter of utmost urgency that we continue to hear from our community leaders from various quarters – governmental, civic, healthcare, welfare, FEMA and others, about ways we can begin to act together to stave off the potential approaching avalanche. County Health Officer Dr. Remington’s thoughtful, articulate contributions are the kinds of advisements that we need more of. Although it is quite possible that I’m missing much of what is published, I want to encourage our community leaders to engage more deliberately with pressing questions which affect us locally:
- Where do I go if I think I need tested?
- What is the local protocol for symptoms necessitating testing?
- How long does it take for test results to return?
- What is our present capacity for testing?
- How well are our local hospitals and medical facilities equipped with the necessary inventories to treat COVID-19 patients?
- How can we practically help our local heroes in the healthcare industry who are, or will be, on the front lines of this when it hits for real?
- How can we assist our faithful servants in law enforcement so that they can direct their time and resources to where it will count most?
- What steps are being taken to protect/isolate those who have been in close contact with patients who test positive for the virus?
- What do our shelters, food banks, and other not-for-profits need from us in order to ensure they can continue to do God’s work among the least fortunate in our community?
- How prepared are we to deal with other non-COVID-19 illnesses and medical emergencies?
- What local guidelines, if any, are in place to articulate and clarify recommendations or directives from federal and state authorities?
- Where and how do residents affected by unemployment go for financial relief?
- How can we be assisting our nursing home facilities, elderly, and widows?
- How can we articulate a community-wide strategy for staying connected, even while maintaining social distance?
- What public spaces are/aren’t open for those who need fresh air and exercise?
- How can we support our local restaurants and retailers who are reeling from all of this?
- In what ways can we encourage young people and those who are out and about like business-as-usual to step up for their own good and the good of others?
These are just a few questions we’re asking. Your readers will have a hundred more. But they all add up to one thing: HOW CAN WE HELP? Perhaps a month from now, this all will have passed with just a little whimper. Let’s keep praying for just that. But perhaps it won’t.
So, to our city, town and county officials, to our community, civic and healthcare leaders, I implore you to diligently bend the ears of our local news outlets in an earnest and sustained effort to keep us informed. To our newspapers and online forums, keep doing your part and go get the news that matters to us locally through this trying season.
Doug Lemon is a partner with the law firm of Miner & Lemon in Warsaw.