We’re starting Week 1 of the New Abnormal — with no real understanding of how long this is going to go on. We’re all trying to figure this out – doing the balancing between maintaining some semblance of normalcy in our lives and addressing the underlying threat of serious health consequences of not paying close enough attention to the warnings. This balancing is going on at all levels – individually, in families, in churches, in schools, in public spaces, and in governmental bodies, be they local, state, or federal.
With so many of the things we do in the course of a normal day or week no longer available to us, how do we keep the important things in our lives moving forward and meet our ongoing normal responsibilities? Many of us rely on our jobs to meet everyday obligations and define at least part of our self-worth through jobs. Some of us have temporarily lost those jobs due to business closures required to decrease social contact. All of us have lost most of the daily social interactions we take for granted to get things done and make our lives worth living. We all are in for a very difficult period of time, that some will be able to weather better than others.
The emergency situation we find ourselves in now is much more complicated than the emergency caused by the microburst almost two years ago. As First Selectman Pat Del Monaco points out, with the microburst we knew what needed to be done – clear roads, restore power, feed those without power, provide showers, etc. With this emergency, we are dealing with a whole lot of unknowns – and the future holds many more uncertainties.
Uncertainty creates apprehension and anxiety, especially when one’s livelihood is in question. This helps explain the hoarding we see in stores and questionable social media posts. (I get – but have not engaged in – TP hoarding. I lived in Moscow in 1977 and hoarded toilet paper when I saw it for sale on the street even though I didn’t need it. People, we are not in the soviet Union!) By and large, however, people have been decent and kind, as befits a town of decent and kind people. A little bit of kindness goes a long way when people are worried and anxious.
Coronavirus or no coronavirus – the town needs to continue to operate at some level. Decisions have to be made, next year’s budget proposal must be finalized, plans for the new schools have to move forward to stay on schedule, local information on the virus needs to be disseminated, preparations for a potentially deeper emergency need to be made, among other things.
The Town is taking a number of steps to address the announced closures and to protect residents and employees, while still moving forward. The Governor gave us the authority to hold virtual meetings rather than in person meetings to make sure that timely decisions are made. Town Hall and buildings are closed, but employees will be working, though they may be answering the phone and responding to emails from home, rather than the office. The Senior Center is closed, but provision is being made to make sure that those who need meals receive them. The schools are making available breakfast and lunches for New Fairfield students (See March 15 letter at http://www.newfairfieldschools.org/home/coronavirus-updates). We are coordinating with regional and state officials to get the latest information and take appropriate action.
Check out New Fairfield Health Department’s website (http://www.newfairfield.org/municipal-departments/services/health) or FaceBook page for the latest local information concerning the coronavirus. If you have a specific need or question, email or call. If the need or question involves social services support – for example, help in getting food or a prescription, receiving emotional support, getting information about jobless benefits, etc. – call or email Cindy White, Director of Social Services, at 203-312-5669, firstname.lastname@example.org. For other questions, call or email the specific department, using contacts on the town website (www.newfairfield.org), or call the office of the First Selectman at 203-312-5600.
Because the library and senior center are closed, I have suspended my Listening Hours. Please contact me using my email address, email@example.com, if you have questions or requests for me. I may be in the “at risk” category because of my age, but I am well, active, and ready to help where I am able.
Two years ago, we came together as a community to address the devastation in our town. The scars are still there, but we are stronger because of that experience. This may be harder, in part because we can’t come together physically. But, we will get through this. Check on your neighbors and family frequently and help if requested. Stay informed. And most of all, be kind.