Alexandrians, like people across the country and around the world, have been thrown for a loop by the COVID-19 pandemic.
People are getting sick and medical facilities lack the capacity to deal with the surge in patients. Unprecedented precautionary measures are being taken to flatten the curve – buying time so we don’t all get sick at once, so badly needed test kits can be manufactured and progress made on a vaccine.
The extensive precautions are being taken to protect everyone, but especially those most at risk of becoming deathly ill from this remarkably contagious virus.
Those measures are, unfortunately but necessarily, impacting every facet of our lives.
College students are flooding back home, taking classes online. School children are home, wreaking havoc on schedules and parents’ work lives – even if those parents are teleworking.
We particularly feel sorry for students in their senior years, either in high school or college. Graduations are being cancelled for both. High school seniors are missing out on rights of passage like prom and possibly even beach week. College seniors saw their years on campus abruptly cut short, and many are facing uncertain job prospects.
Perhaps it seems trivial to mention sports in a time like this, but all of the sporting events that have been cancelled are a real loss to many. The climax of the college basketball season – conference championships and March Madness – is gone in its entirety.
Our own Washington Nationals, winners of the 2019 World Series, were set to hoist the championship banner at the home opener and to celebrate their title throughout the first homestand. Those events will eventually take place, but it won’t be the same.
Even the Masters, gasp, has been postponed. The world is truly turned upside down.
Many businesses aren’t going to survive this, plain and simple. Those that do persist are going to need short-term loans that will then likely take years to pay down. Low wage earners, already living on the edge of solvency, are going to be hit hardest by closures and layoffs.
While a crisis like this can bring out the worst in people, from political partisanship to clawing for a roll of toilet paper in the grocery store, we see far more examples of it bringing out the best.
Sports leagues and individual athletes are setting up relief funds for low wage stadium workers. Houses of worship are creating or dipping into emergency funds for congregants and the community. Local business owners, like Trae Lamond at Chadwicks are creatively trying to continue employing all of their workers during this crisis.
Nationally, both the legislative and executive branches are providing relief, from immediate unemployment benefits to funds to fight COVID-19. Locally, our government and the nonprofit community are helping in ways big and small, from easing of parking enforcement to the ACT for Alexandria COVID-19 relief fund.
In addition to taking care of our families and neighbors, please remember to support local businesses during this time. Consider buying gift cards from your favorite restaurants and shops. You can use the cards later, and the money will help them survive the COVID-19 storm.
This is a truly scary and unsettling time, but we will get through it.