It has been about six weeks since my last blog entry, and I apologize.
When I launched this blog in February, it was built around Appalachian “travel, food, and fun.”
Little did I know that COVID-19 was just ahead, and the entire country would be thrown into a new normal of social distancing, business closures, masks, and the list goes on and on.
While I have not been feeding this blog. Well, let me rephrase that — this blog has starved – I plan to get back on track.
Earlier today, we began a shift of messaging around doing our part as Appalachia Kentucky is open.
Doing our part… I thought about this, and it is so easy to overthink phrases such as this.
Doing our part is the Appalachia way. It is taking care of one another, it is picking someone up when they have been knocked down, it is coming together, and it is all about community and perseverance.
Throughout this pandemic, I have witnessed the magnitude of uncertainty of the moment bring out the best of people. I think about 14-year-old Cooper Hatton. He was nominated as a COVID-19 Hero for his work to create personal protective equipment for frontline workers in and around his community of Jeremiah in Letcher County. Cooper asked for 3D printer for Christmas and was randomly making things like banjo picks when COVID-19 hit and a family member (who happened to be a nurse) asked if Cooper could make an ear guard.
He has created more than 300 ear guards since then.
I am reminded of Eric Wooldridge, who coordinates Somerset Community College’s Additive Manufacturing program. Eric went to work running his 3D printing labs 24/7 to create personal protective equipment. On some nights, Eric slept on the floor of his labs to keep making products for health care and first responders throughout the college’s service area. The same efforts were made by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College’s IDEAS Center, Hazard Community and Technical College, and Ashland Community and Technical College.
It is also important to note there have many moments of grief and pain, especially to those who have passed from COVID-19. At the time of this entry, we have lost 57 people in Appalachia Kentucky to this virus, and our thoughts and prayers are with all who are mourning during this time.
Our thoughts are also with those who have been lost their jobs during this time.
So, that brings me back to doing our part.
Throughout this whole pandemic, we have done our part. Our part has now shifted to supporting those businesses opening and those that will open in the coming days and weeks. Our part is also doing everything we can to have good judgment during this time. That includes social distancing, washing and sanitizing your hands often, and even wearing a mask.