Life Upended: Thanks to Coronavirus, We’re in Uncharted Territory [EDITORIAL]

I was speaking with another reporter (and Wilton resident) yesterday who’s writing about how a small town like Wilton is handling response to the coronavirus pandemic. We were trying to remember another event in the town’s recent history that has been as big or as traumatic.

Wracking my brain for that answer, I came up empty-handed.

In the last 12 hours, it’s become clear that there really isn’t anything that compares. We’re in uncharted territory.

Of course it’s not just Wilton; the country doesn’t know what’s hit it. The executive editor of The New York Times told his staff yesterday that it’s the biggest story since 9/11. But just taking a look around locally, it’s hard not to feel the confusion, the panic and the fear.

But what we’re also feeling is community.

We’re seeing it in the outpouring of support Wilton’s first patient and his family have received since we brought you their story–almost $89,000 in donations to the GoFundMe effort and multiple offers of meals and other deliveries.

It’s evident in people realizing the impact social distancing will have on retailers and restaurants, and encouraging residents to keep shopping locally by buying gift certificates or ordering over the phone.

It’s clear in the sharing of ideas of how to keep kids occupied while school is out and it becomes clearer that they need to keep their distance from friends.

Speaking of social distance, I want to encourage everyone to take this very seriously. They didn’t close the schools so that Wilton’s kids can get some free time for playdates and hangouts. They closed the schools to keep the kids apart and stop the spread of this virus.

With permission I’m sharing something posted by a Wilton resident who is an emergency room doctor (and on the front lines, she–and other health professionals about to get slammed–really deserve our thanks). Her words of caution:

“As an ER doctor I think it’s great that our town has closed the schools. This was thoughtful and decisive. Now we, as responsible neighbors, have to make smart choices.

“Please do not arrange play dates. No pandemic parties, no sleep overs. This defeats the purpose of closing the schools.

“This virus has a long incubation period. You can be shedding virus WITHOUT ANY SYMPTOMS. That means that your child, your friend’s child, your sister’s kids can LOOK fine, but still be contagious.

“Cancel the birthday party, postpone the trip, LET YOUR KIDS BE BORED. My kids will be bored too.

“It is NOT worth the risk. The only way to mitigate the danger of this disease is to stop its spread.

“Stay home.”

There are others who deserve our thanks, because they’re in it for the long haul and they can’t stay home. Like Wilton’s police officers, firefighters, DPW workers, volunteer EMTs and other employees who have to keep the town running; Wilton’s first selectwoman, Lynne Vanderslice and health director Barry Bogle, doing everything they can to make sure we’re staying healthy and safe; and schools superintendent Kevin Smith, and all the district’s employees doing their part to figure out how to keep teaching Wilton’s children even if it can’t be done from inside Wilton’s schools.

This will cause hardships for some members of the community. I’ll remind everyone of the number for Wilton Social Services–203.834.6238–which is there to help residents navigate the bumps in the road. Please don’t wait to reach out.

I also want to thank my own family for their patience while I’ve had to ramp up work even more than usual. They’ve always been supportive of everything it takes to keep GOOD Morning Wilton going, and it’s most apparent in the crisis moments.

Wilton will get through this, even if we don’t have the directions for navigating this new, uncharted territory. The way we’ll do it is the same way Wilton always does it–by relying on one another, by asking when we need it, and by offering a hand to help where we are able.

I’m looking forward to a time when I can get back to other news and stories that are GOOD. We’re all looking forward to getting back to ‘normal.’ The country has done it before, and so has Wilton.

I was empty-handed looking for an answer to the question of whether Wilton had dealt with a crisis as big as this one. But I found the answer on what to hold on to:

We just have to hold on tight with one hand as we extend the other hand to one another–with help, with thanks, and with the promise of community that we see and feel all around us, always.

That’s Wilton.

3 COMMENTS

  1. 9/11, the 1972 Ice Storm, and before my time, perhaps the 1955 flood all shook this community to it’s core, but Wilton persevered. In those times, it was possible to walk to your neighbor’s, check them out and offer support- that’s what makes this time so different.
    But now we have this wonderful, awful medium of the internet to keep in touch, offer support, and maintain the fabric of our lives together. Though it’s no substitute for the personal touch, the web can keep us informed and communicating- essential for our well- being. And through the work of our town leaders, our first responders, and people like Heather, we will persist.
    Be smart. Stay well. More science= Less fear.

Comments are closed.