We are in a crisis. There’s no way around it. There is no way to blunt that statement.

However, now is not the time to panic. Now is the time where leaders step up and lead. Now is the time when task forces are charged to do their best. Now is the time when communities must come together — albeit while social distancing.

We have already begun to see those who will step in a time of crisis. Teachers, school workers and community members have rallied to maintain meal service to children who have been sent home from closed schools because of COVID-19.

Teachers have been ensuring students have educational resources to students to continue learning while at home. School counselors and administrators are also stepping up to be there for students and families who are stressed during this critical time, by opening hotlines and maintaining contact.

Local businesses have had their own challenges, such as restaurants who cannot serve dine-in meals due to new — and hopefully temporary — regulations for the industry. Some have been creative and have offered not only drive-through or curbside services, but also delivery service, as we live in an area where city conveniences like UberEats and Door Dash don’t exist.

Some of these eateries have also stepped up to help feed families during the challenging time where school is not in session to provide those regular breakfasts and lunches to students, especially those in need. There are restaurants delivering brown bag lunches and others have offered free kids’ meals. Every little bit helps.

Let’s not forget our health care workers who are dealing with constant changes every day. Just as fast as we see something reported, it changes again, and they are no different facing constant changes in regulations and constant changes in protocol. The same goes for first responders who are at-risk every day but seemingly, even more so now.

Each of us has a chance to step up in this situation. We may not all have the means to donate, the ability to teach or be a health care worker, but we can all practice social distancing. The importance of social distancing seems to still baffle some.

There have been many memes and explanations on the news and social media, but it all boils down to one thing — “it’s not about you.” It is about protecting those around you. Because like many illnesses, you could be a-symptomatic or carrying the virus and could still give it to others, which is why most businesses have closed and gatherings are canceled.

We call on all to practice discretion when we shop for groceries and — yes, toilet paper. Remember, there are more than 56,000 people in Franklin County alone, yet we have four big box grocery stores. Let’s remember the smaller mom and pop stores, our minute markets and mini-marts. They will be struggling in the coming weeks and months, too, and need our support.

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