HARRISON – The photos accompanying this article show the vacant streets and businesses of Harrison which, as in most every village, town and city in the state, are virtually still as a result of the executive orders issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in an effort to staunch the spread of the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 infections and deaths.
With the exception of a few people out to make necessary fuel, home repair component, grocery and pharmacy purchases, people are taking seriously the governor’s call to “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” And rightly so, as even the quiet, peaceful world of the small tourist town, farms and rural residences is being touched by the COVID-19 scourge. As of Friday, April 10 [one month after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Michigan], the Central Michigan District Health Department reported three deaths had been confirmed in its jurisdiction, the latest of which was in Clare County. That lost soul was a Harrison area woman. Overall, the state had reported xxx confirmed cases and xxx deaths on Monday, April 13.
So, it is wise that Michiganders are taking seriously the call to stay home, shelter in place, and go out only for the most essential needs [see the release on the governor’s directive on page 1]. It also is heartening to see that merchants are stepping up to enable the safest possible interactions between their workers and customers, such as positioning of intervening plastic shields on check-out counters, limiting the number of in-store customers at one time, and the setting of special hours designated for the most vulnerable portion of the population, senior or disabled citizens.
Churches are also putting parishioners ahead of tradition, establishing various alternate ways of conducting religious services. One seemingly popular venue is the drive-in service, as advertised on the Hope Baptist Church marquee.
While there is a great deal of closure and obstacle at hand, it must be remembered that this situation is finite: it will ultimately be contained, and in time there will be a vaccine developed which will reduce COVID-19 to just one more manageable disease. That will take some time, but it will happen.
In the meantime, we humans must remember that we ALL are susceptible to this disease and maintain our vigilance against it. Wash hands thoroughly [20 seconds] and frequently; disinfect surfaces frequently touched; maintain the appropriate 6-foot social distancing when encountering others in a store, outdoors, on the street or in a parking lot. And, above all – stay home! That which is not brought into the home cannot infect the household.
Lastly, many people are having difficulty finding ways to occupy their time. After all, how much TV can anyone watch before they get stiff muscles, tired eyes and re-bored? Some of the best advice might be to “pick up a book!” or “get outside and take a brief, socially-distanced walk” in the fresh air. Perhaps this is a grand opportunity to actually learn how to spend time with oneself, achieving a balance of peace and values rather than bouncing between the demands of a busy life and the entertainment expectations of society.
Stay home, stay safe, stay engaged – with family, friends, the neighbor who may be riding out this seemingly relentless storm alone. Surviving this pandemic is not a solo pursuit – we’re all in this together.