Be a source of encouragement, support one another as you are able.

Be thankful for those that are working to keep the shelves filled, those keeping us healthy and informed, as well as those that are educating our kids. Show some local love. Be a listening ear to those that just need to talk through their next steps, and be kind to everyone. This is a time no one anticipated, but one that we can help each other through. We are a resilient community, and with the support of one another, we will come through this.

Navigating these uncharted waters has been tense and emotional. On March 2, Laura McDougall, Four Corners Health Department director, was in our office talking with Lisa Hurley and myself about getting York County’s largest employers together to have a frank discussion about pandemic plans for their companies and organizations. Lisa, Laura and I spent two days on the telephone contacting community and business leaders. On March 5, there was a packed room at York General as we listened to Laura tell us all the importance of following the directives of health department. We had presenters from Nebraska Public Power, York Public Schools, York General and York Medical all share that they were already reviewing and running table top pandemic drills. Lisa and I returned to the office to share with our teams the great discussion that was held and listened to feedback from them. On March 10, we then put together a proactive plan for our offices to safeguard our teams as well as the public.

On March 11, I had a “check in” with our Chamber President, Carrie Colburn, to keep her in the loop about the steps we are taking here at the office. Our discussion continued on to encompass upcoming events. I had shared with her that I have been in regular communication with the health department and their recommendations were, “If school is on, you are on.” Knowing the state basketball tournament was restricted in attendance, we were comfortable proceeding because, though we typically have strong attendance, we could manage within the 250-person gathering while using the non-pharmaceutical interventions.

On March 12, all that changed with the cancellation of large collegiate and professional tournaments and seasons. We all just stared at our screens in disbelief. On March 16, the restrictions on gatherings went to 10 persons. Worship services, annual celebrations, weddings and funerals are now not recommended in order to “flatten the curve.” This is the date that all of us pivoted. We had discussed contingency plans and now we had to put them all into action.

Schools rethinking how they can deliver enrichment and meals to their students, medical and retirement facilities implementing drastic measures to protect their patient/resident populations as well as their teams. Their obvious passion to do what is best to flatten the curve is evident. Non-profit organizations making sure that the disadvantaged in our area still have resources available to them. The exhaustion that I see in their eyes as we strategize.

During all of these meetings, the regular question comes, “What can we do to also help our local businesses keep their doors open?” The first thing I say is, while you are putting your plans together for your groups, and you have your list of supplies that you need to execute that, go to our local stores to see what you are able to purchase there. If those items are not immediately available, and you have to order them, order them through our local merchants. They often are able to get those supplies just as quickly as if you were to purchase them online. I encouraged them to purchase gift cards at our local stores and restaurants as they implement their plans to assist those in need.

I have seen our food service industry “pivot” to still provide the great service we all know they have. They have adjusted their seating capability to stay within the 10-person recommendation or just went to delivery or takeout service during this time. It has been a learning curve, but having our local restaurants offering their menu service is giving us a sense of normalcy. Our local retailers are thankful for their customers who have come in and talked about continuing their projects that had been started earlier this year. Some have gone ahead with their projects because they will be home on weekends. We are thankful to see so many continuing to support our local businesses.

You have all heard me say that York is a great community, and I feel that with every fiber of my being. York bands together for celebrations and for struggles, and I have no doubt that we will support one another through this time. We will grow individually and as a community, and when we come out on the other side, we will be stronger than ever. #bettertogether #whatsyoury

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