Commentary: Brighter days ahead; stay safe, stay focused
I am proud of our community. In early March we had our first confirmed case of COVID19 in our city. Prior to that, and since that time, we have come together as a community to practice physical distancing to keep our vulnerable safe and limit the spread of the virus.
Our efforts have been effective, and we have not seen a spike in cases or a surge that has stressed our local health care system. Though we are not yet in the clear, I believe we can all give thanks to one another and celebrate our steadfastness in significantly curtailing the spread of this disease up to now. I want to thank everyone who has sacrificed so much to keep our neighbors, our community, and each other safe.
In days following the onset of the crises, we assembled a Community Task Force in Cottonwood that is made up of representatives from a broad range of stakeholders. We have been meeting weekly through digital technology to ensure that we have the resources we need in Cottonwood to meet the demand placed on our citizens.
I am proud to say that our community has stepped up to supply many necessities, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through donation-drives and home-spun efforts. I will be forever grateful to the many business owners, non-profit directors, everyday citizens and employees who have selflessly donated time and money to make our community stronger.
There is no place I’d rather be than here, and I am so proud of the outpouring of support in the great Verde Valley.
Aside from the immediate support network, two other campaigns have grown from the Community Task Force, which are vital to recovery as we move forward. First, a grassroots campaign geared toward connecting our community socially during these days of social distancing was created, #CottonwoodConnected.
A project by team member Isaac Dudley (from Friends of the Verde) supported by the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce and City of Cottonwood, this campaign allows us all to connect and support one another during this crisis.
Second, the City of Cottonwood has a resource coordinator who has compiled a list of area non-profits that continues to put resources in the hands that need them most even in this most challenging time. For those with the means to assist, I would strongly encourage you to put your donation dollars here, in Cottonwood, to best support our community as we move towards economic recovery.
I am eager to move toward opening our businesses as soon as possible. We know this is especially important to economic recovery. With both health and recovery in mind, we must be sure that when we reopen we do so in a way that is safe and still limits the spread of the COVID19 virus, which most agree will be with us for at least another year. Business will be conducted differently in the next year, with physical distancing continuing as a necessary daily reality. We must prepare to be inconvenienced, whether it’s by wearing a mask in public or having our temperature taken as we enter a grocery store.
I urge everyone to please step up to do your part in encouraging and supporting our local businesses, many of whom have had to shut down or severely alter the way they solicit and conduct business. I’m hopeful that we will see them reopen soon, but the reality is some may not. Remember that every dollar spent online or in another city is a dollar that doesn’t make it in the hands of our own entrepreneurs, and continue to be cycled within the community.
Again, we have made great progress, but we are not yet over this crisis. We are still two weeks away from what our healthcare professionals and experts predict will be Arizona’s peak in cases, which now that we’ve succeeded in flattening the curve, will be far less catastrophic but a little more prolonged than it would have been had we not made the sacrifices we have made. I remain confident that we have what we need in the Verde to meet this challenge and that we are moving toward the recovery phase.
Because of the efforts that we have all taken to protect ourselves and our community, we are better prepared to support one another through our economic recovery and we will grow stronger together. Please take a moment to join me in giving thanks to our grocery store staff who have worked tirelessly to keep shelves stocked; to our hospital and first-responder staff who have so bravely met this extraordinary challenge while in the midst of national shortages of PPE; to our teachers and students who have had to adapt to remote learning; and to give a shout out to our graduation seniors and let them know we appreciate their scholarly achievements and wish them well in their next steps as contributing members of society.
Above all, please give thanks to your neighbors and friends, who have done their part in controlling the spread and who have looked out for your well-being. I appreciate all of you. Stay safe, and stay focused on our brighter days ahead.
Tim Elinski is the mayor of Cottonwood.