This is the best of times, this is the worst of times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given the opportunity for citizens of this country to demonstrate the good in them. They have.

Locally, merchants, educators and other leaders have shown determination to survive, along with creativity to make it happen.

For instance:

• Many distilleries in Kentucky adapted and made hand sanitizer when there was a shortage of the product.

• Restaurants adjusted by offering takeout meals.

• Arts venues offered outdoor and online events.

• Senior centers continued to offer meals outside the building and checks on their regulars.

• Libraries offered curbside pickup.

• Churches offered online and drive-up services.

• Veterinarians took pets from customers' cars and returned them, allowing pet parents to avoid contact with others.

• Schools continued checks on their students and some provided “care packages” of meals and snacks. They continue to adjust to provide supplies needed for online learning and designating teachers to lead their districts in ways to teach online for those who choose to do so.

Individuals have stepped up, too. The Daily Independent had no shortage of stories about people finding ways to help one another through this health crisis, whether it was by making face masks or ear guards or starting a movement on social media to help encourage others to remain positive and hopeful. Individuals found ways to be entertained by spending more time outdoors fishing, camping, gardening, riding bicycles and motorcycles and ATVs. People got in touch with their creative sides in the kitchen by baking bread and other goodies, some for the first time. A local young woman developed a system to match helpers with those who had concerns about getting out. A Flatwoods man mowed yards. Girl Scouts donated cookies to front-line workers.

Yet the pandemic rages on with no certain end in sight.

In the Tri-State, we might feel insulated from COVID-19. We remain somewhat isolated from the rest of the world. There is little international travel here and we aren’t as densely populated as many areas where the virus has been very active. In fact, statistics from Johns Hopkins University show Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia among the states with the least number of cases in the country.

While different parts of the country feel as though it’s safe to increase openings, there is still something to fear.

Any increase in activity promises to increase the number of COVID-19 cases and, potentially, deaths. Even if we are somewhat safe in our area, we don’t know who has traveled to a hot spot and we don’t know how careful they have been.

“I would tell most people: just because places are opening, does not mean the virus is under control,” Dr Abraar Karan, physician and public health researcher at Harvard Medical School, told the BBC.

“The virus is still out there,” he said, adding every social interaction is an opportunity for the virus to catch and spread.

We hope our residents will continue to take the virus serious and take precautions to keep themselves safe and to protect the public health.

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