Thu, Aug. 13

Commentary: Verde Valley will survive, and we will recover

Mayor Tim Elinski

Mayor Tim Elinski

Just two weeks ago life was very different in the Verde Valley. With the sudden progression of COVID-19 across the nation and into our state and now county, the reality of this infection’s impact has become soberingly clear.

Alongside many other Arizona mayors, I have issued a Declaration of Emergency that recognizes the gravity of the moment we are all in together, and assembled a team to respond as quickly as possible to this rapidly-changing situation.

Many difficult decisions will face us in the coming weeks and months, but I have absolute confidence in the leadership team here in Cottonwood.

Many disasters have faced the city in the past, and in my 15 years of service to Cottonwood, I have worked alongside this team to navigate rough times after many disasters: anticipated, unexpected and economic.

Though many things are not yet known about the risks of the COVID-19 virus, I am positive this team and your elected representatives will guide the city to the quickest recovery possible while protecting our most vulnerable citizens from infection.

At this time, I am asking everyone to do their part in helping suppress the spread of this virus. Health officials both in our community and across the globe have advised us that the best course of action is to slow the spread by remaining socially distant from others and staying home if we are feeling unwell.

In times of uncertainty it is natural for us to want to congregate, but with this virus being so communicable, it is critical we keep our distance as this disease is very dangerous to our most vulnerable.

We recognize that among the most vulnerable are those aged 65 and up in our community, but everyone is a potential carrier of this virus, including many who don’t have symptoms.

For this reason, I expect younger residents to responsibly abide by the same rules to keep those most vulnerable safe. If we can suppress the virus and contain its spread immediately, we are much more likely to recover quickly.

For a link to the specific guidelines I ask everyone to follow, please see the CDC website, or visit Cottonwood’s website for links.

We have many advantages on our side already. First, Arizona has low reported cases, so it’s still possible to flatten the curve.

Second, warm weather is around the corner and hopefully the end of the flu season. Lastly we live in a community that has a long history of compassion and neighborliness. Cottonwood has always pulled together in times of need.

I am already overwhelmed by calls coming in to offer help. We are passionate about our valley and the community we have built together.

We genuinely care about one another and I have every confidence that we will come together to do our part to reduce the spread, and to support one another socially, economically and emotionally through recovery.

Hopefully the virus will not result in large numbers of ill in our community, but what is certain is that the COVID-19 disaster has already had a major negative economic impact locally.

With the prudent closure of schools last Monday, working families suddenly were thrust into caring for and home-schooling their kids. Bars and restaurants are now closed and with self-isolation many businesses will be faced with closing their doors for a yet-unknown length of time.

Cottonwood will not be alone in recovering from this crisis, as cities across the nation will be in the same situation. What is unique about Cottonwood is that our community has a long history of supporting its local businesses. We were founded by entrepreneurs and our community has always been an inseparable blend of business and families.

Our free market spirit still runs strong and will be critical to our economic recovery.

In the coming weeks many shops will try to adapt the way they sell products due to closures and self-isolation, so please find ways to support their efforts before choosing to buy from an online vendor.

During our recovery we must be certain to do all we can to show support for our local businesses and it is crucial to our overall recovery that we spend our dollars here in the Verde Valley to keep our families employed.

Every dollar that leaves our community is a dollar that does not make it into the hands of one of the many hardworking individuals that make our community strong. We have many families, more vulnerable now than ever, that rely on local commerce. Again, I am urging everyone to do their part in spending locally.

We are committed to recovering quickly. I have assembled a group of stakeholders that will help us identify and distribute community resources and services so that no one is left without the basic things they need to get to the other side of this crisis.

Following that, the city will take the lead in moving us toward economic recovery quickly by working with local business owners to assess needs and identifying ways the city can assist. We want families to be supported as well as our educators.

We will double up on our efforts to support the events in our community that have strong economic value and support our business community.

Many challenges lie ahead, but our council is committed to helping us all move through this and recover.

We could not do it without the professional and committed employees of the City of Cottonwood, and the support of the compassionate community I am proud and humbled to serve.

Tim Elinski is the mayor of Cottonwood.

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