By Lisa Whaley
This isn’t the first time I have written about the character of Unicoi County. Its pride. Its resilience. Its compassion.
Its overwhelming sense of community.
At no time in recent history have those qualities been more precious. And now, as our nation and our world scrambles to contain a new enemy, these characteristics are becoming the best weapons we hold in our arsenal.
That enemy is Covid-19, an infectious disease from a brand-new virus.
The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. Early information indicates that sometimes it may also feature stomach upset.
Details are coming in every hour, and what we know is constantly changing. At highest risk at this time is anyone age 65 or older or those with serious underlying health conditions. But even the young, we continue to learn, are at serious risk – either as carriers or when battling with the infection itself.
The best defense, according to the CDC, is to wash hands regularly and carefully, avoid touching your face and to follow social distancing guidelines. Right now, this includes the recommendation that we stay home for anything but the most necessary tasks.
Schools have closed. Restaurants are shutting down or drastically changing their business practices. And more and more businesses are opting for a temporary shutdown to help our nation and our healthcare system get ahead of this pandemic.
We here at The Erwin Record are heeding that call, closing our doors temporarily to walk-in traffic in an effort to protect both our staff and our community.
But that does not mean we are leaving you. We remain open, and our customers can always reach us via phone, email or Facebook.
More importantly, we continue to take seriously our role as a community newspaper to inform and unite.
In our print pages each week, you will find news to help keep you up-to-date during this crisis, as well as stories to remind us of the hope always to be found within the homes and communities of Erwin, Unicoi, Flag Pond and more.
Continue to share your stories with us, so we can in turn share them with our community.
In between issues, check in on our Facebook page and website, as we are working overtime to get announcements to you just as soon as we receive them.
Remember, just because we are “social-distancing” as a community does not mean we can’t still be a community.
Churches are rediscovering the fact that a church is not a building but a people, and are streaming services online.
Family and neighbors are reaching out to one another via phone and text to make sure everyone is safe and that we never stop lifting each other up. We’re sharing photos, laughter and music whenever we can in whatever form we deem safe.
That is the way it should be, because we are a community.
Trust us to continue to work for you. As journalists, I promise you that we never stop researching, asking “why?” and questioning the motives and backstory of every news item we receive.
We vet carefully what we publish. We don’t want to make any mistakes with your trust or your lives.
We know this is serious, but we will make it through – thanks to our resilience, our love for one another, our strong sense of community and a God that has walked with us through flood, fire, two world wars and more.
Stay safe out there. We will keep your news coming.