By Soo Ing-Moody
We are in a time of emergency in our country, state and locally here in the Methow Valley. This past week, all our local jurisdictions, both towns and Okanogan County, have declared states of emergency so as to protect the health and interests of those we serve. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a pandemic health emergency – and we are all risk susceptible to potential loss of health, livelihoods and a sense of normalcy.
Locally, steps have been taken to help mitigate the risks and fallout of this emergency. The Methow Valley Long Term Recovery Organization has been reactivated, and its members – leaders across all social, health, economic, public and private sectors – are working in a coordinated effort behind the scenes. Having been asked how people can help, I would say the single biggest thing we can all do is to follow the Governor’s order. It will not be easy, nor desirable, but it is necessary – and for now, it is an enforceable law.
While many have been practicing good social distancing, a few have not. In Twisp, parks and playgrounds are closed to gatherings. However, in an effort to encourage outdoor mobility, physical and emotional well-being, for the time being, the parks remain open for walkers. As playgrounds are closed to reduce virus spread, parents are reminded to watch their kids when they are outdoors. During this health crisis, staying at home means no playdates, no running around the neighborhood with other kids, and no social gatherings, public or private. This is not only for their sakes, but for those of all ages who are vulnerable in our community.
There have been some who lack any fear of contracting this virus and believe social distancing is unimportant to them. To have this narrow view is to miss the point. The argument to stay home should not be about whether one’s self is afraid of becoming infected, sick or even death. The risk may not be to oneself, but to others – contributors to our way of life, and those who care for the sick. Small communities, like ours, are particularly vulnerable as our citizens are the cornerstone of our social, economic, and emergency support systems – each contributing to the unique character and services we enjoy and depend upon locally. The sickness or loss of even one of these members would be a hit to us all.
A high percentage of Twisp residents are seniors, some owning local businesses. Our social services and the many nonprofit organizations depend on the skills of this vulnerable group who need us for their protection. At risk are also those providing essential services at our grocery stores and pharmacies, who remain open to serve our basic needs. Reducing our risk of exposure reduces theirs. And, our valley’s health care providers, first responders and their administrative support teams who work tirelessly during times of emergency deserve not only our appreciation, but your actions to keep them safe.
Staying at home serves the purpose of flattening the curve so that our area’s health care and emergency service systems do not become overwhelmed. Their jobs are difficult during the best of times, but when the threat is an invisible virus, they are literally risking their lives and the potential lives and livelihoods of their families. They are working for us; we need to stay home for them.
Our valley is resilient. We have overcome disaster before – and together we can again. Our success will depend on the actions we individually and collectively take to do our part, follow the law, and keep the disease at bay.
Soo Ing-Moody is the mayor of Twisp.