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Stuck in the concrete jungle

Last week I got a reminder of the challenges being faced in some parts of the country that simply will not happen in a place like West Virginia, as we continue to deal with COVID-19.

A friend of mine lives in New York City, but is a Tennessee native. She’s not the type to get homesick often — though Tennessee is, indeed, still “home” to her, no matter how many years she’s lived in the city. She said, while she is fortunate to be able to work from home, and therefore still getting a paycheck, she is “trapped” in a fourth floor apartment in the city.

For people like her (and me), it wears on you to not be able to get outside … or even SEE anything but buildings upon buildings. She’s stuck in a concrete jungle, and says she misses the woods terribly right now.

The thing is, in a place like the NYC metro area, there might be millions more like her, realizing perhaps for the first time that the place where they sought their fortunes is not “home.” They may be experiencing the sharpest homesickness yet. They may begin to understand the importance of the things they left behind.

It makes me wonder how many of them, when this is all over, will feel differently about where they would like to spend their futures.

***

Speaking of our futures, you’ve heard the phrase “knowledge is power,” right? It is true. Knowledge right now means the power to make better decisions that affect our health and our personal finances, among other things. It is mind boggling to think there are STILL elected officials, bureaucrats and public relations types unwilling to give us as much information as possible about everything from COVID-19 cases in our counties and state, to the number of tests or amount of personal protective equipment available, to the number of unemployment claims being filed during this disaster.

Pretending that giving necessary information is a violation of patient privacy laws is cowardly, and invites the question: What are they trying to hide? Failing to update data on state (public, taxpayer-funded) websites as frequently as new information comes in is irresponsible. Failure to detail safety protocols in place for both patients and employees at healthcare facilities inspires LESS confidence in that facility, rather than fooling folks into having more. And attempts by politicians to hide infection or unemployment numbers, rather than having the desired effect of increasing popularity levels, in fact makes voters VERY suspicious of those elected officials.

Give the public the information it needs. Tell the truth. Don’t intentionally inspire false hope. Those who do so are doing a great deal of harm in a time when we should be one team working toward one goal.

***

It would be nice to believe we are nearly turning a corner in this crisis, and that “normal” life will resume any week now. All it takes is one look at how carelessly some people are treating current guidelines to understand we might be in this for the long haul. There are still far too many people gathering in close or large groups. Still some who seem truly not to understand what is happening and why they are being told, for example, No, you cannot come in to our offices.

Please, please follow the rules and guidance, folks. Yes, they DO apply to you.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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