Let’s stop thinking of coronavirus as a global pandemic. It is a local problem that requires each community to band together if we are to solve it.
I am having so many conversations with friends in the UK, Italy and the US, and one of the consistent themes is that nobody can believe what’s happening. It feels surreal. Every time they look at the news, they see reports of thousands of new cases around the globe, or in their country, or in cities and towns where they know people. It keeps getting bigger. Even those who aren’t directly effected now know it is only a matter of time.
Designating the coronavirus and COVID-19 a global pandemic was inevitable, but for you and me it puts the emphasis on the wrong place.
As citizens and individuals, we don’t need to be thinking about the entire world. We need to be thinking about our local community.
It’s not useful to think of the coronavirus as one global problem. It makes it feel overwhelming and out of our control. In fact, the opposite is true.
Every community is facing its own coronavirus challenge, with their unique combination of people, resources, and timelines. Some communities will come out better than others, because they took the right actions sooner.
You can help to make your community safer right now. Your actions matter.
“Social distancing” is the only strategy known to combat this problem. This makes sense. It is a hyper-local solution to a what is ultimately a local problem. (After all, we are already practicing social distancing from people far away from us!)
“Flattening the curve”—reducing the number of people exposed so that we don’t overwhelm our hospital services—is another phrase you will hear repeated. Here’s the key thing to remember. What affects your life, your community, and your family is first and foremost your local hospital. It doesn’t matter how many hospital beds are in the country. What matters is how many are in your local hospital and how quickly those are filling up.
This is something you have a big influence on. Again, your actions matter.
The thing to do now is focus on your local community. That means your neighbors, your coworkers, your classmates and your church congregation. That means the elderly couple down the street. The coworker who had a kidney transplant. The lady in your church with diabetes.
And just as importantly, the doctors, nurses and staff at your local hospital. We will rely on them more than ever to get through this. We can improve everyone’s chances by keeping them safe and strong.
If you have friends and family around the world, support them as best you can. Share effective guidance, encouragement, and provide financial support.
But don’t get caught up in the big picture and lose your sense of self-control over the situation. When every community solves their local problem, the global problem will be solved as well.
A FEW COMMUNITY-FOCUSED IDEAS I’VE SEEN
I have seen a lot of ideas going around social media that I think make a lot of sense. I’m sharing some of them here in hopes they inspire you to take specific actions to strengthen your local community.
Offer to Help in Specific Ways – Can you do grocery shopping for someone? Can you walk their dog? Can you call a neighbor and chat on the phone for 15 minutes? A lot of people will feel anxious, stressed, and afraid. Small offers of support can make a big difference.
Buy a gift certificate to a local restaurant – Local businesses will be hit very hard. If you have the means to support them and help them get through this time, this is a great way to do it. Once things calm down, you will enjoy going out for a nice meal, too.
Make a community email/Facebook/WhatsApp group – Go around to neighbors and get everyone in a group. Use the group to keep people updated on your local community. Use it to ask for and offer help. This is one way the coronavirus can literally make your community stronger.
Community Songs – Italians in some towns have been leaning out their windows or standing on their balconies and singing together. My friend shared videos with me of the families all singing “Old MacDonald” for the little kids. Small activities like this bring people together and lift up everyone’s spirits.
Thank a Retail Employee – If you do have to go out, take a moment to thank the local retail workers who are helping to keep everything functioning. The grocery store, pharmacy, and local shops that stay open to provide essential services are what keep society running. It’s easy to show gratitude and it means a lot.
The more we appreciate that this is a local problem, the more effectively we can address it. Please start social distancing now.
The CDC’s website is a good resource to understand this new coronavirus.
The WHO’s website provides guidance on how to protect yourself.
(Note: I removed the link to the world coronavirus tracker. I encourage you to find the most local source of up-to-date data about your community and monitor that. If I find a good resource to assist with this, I will post it here.
Bryan Green is the co-founder, Editor, and COO of Go Be More. He is using the coronavirus as an excuse to do what he should have done earlier and strengthen his connections within his community. You can give him feedback at bryan◎gobemore.co or on our Facebook page.