STATE HOUSE — The following op-ed was submitted verbatim by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (Dist. 74, Jamestown and Middletown).
MY VIEW: It Took ‘Social Distancing’ to Bring Us Together
Life was so easy a few weeks ago when we could send the kids to school, go out to dinner, or meet a friend for a beer after work. Life as we know it is so different today as we practice ‘social distancing’ to stop the spread of this highly infectious coronavirus. It seems the longer we stay apart, the closer we get.
Have you noticed how people are nicer to each other? We are concerned about stopping this virus from harming our older, less healthy citizens. We are calling to check on our neighbors, talking to our parents, spending more time with the kids, and calling long-lost friends. How did we not have the time to do this before?
It’s ironic that a novel, highly contagious virus is bringing us together as a community, a state, and a country. Even the nasty, uncivil, partisan rhetoric on Capitol Hill has been replaced with care and empathy. For the first time in years, Congress is working together. Albeit to pass the biggest bail-out bill in our nation’s history- $1 trillion dollars to help Americans pay the rent or mortgage, put food on the table, and keep bankruptcy at bay. This virus has no political party, no gender, no sex, no religion, and no athletic skills (although COVID-19 sacked TB12 as the lead news story in New England).
Let’s thank the real heroes during this public health crisis—the healthcare workers who put their own lives at risk to care for those with symptoms, the people stocking the supermarket shelves; the restaurant owners who chose community over profits; Governor Raimondo for her strong, calm, and steady leadership, Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott; the Department of Labor and Training workers processing over 20,000 unemployment claims in eight days (compared to 11,000 claims for the entire month of January), the Small Business Administration helping our small businesses as they struggle; and citizens like you staying home to slow the spread of this virus.
We will see high unemployment, financial hardships, and some businesses and non-profits will not survive this. This crisis has hit every state in this country. It’s a global pandemic. We are all united to “flatten the curve” of this virus by practicing ‘social distancing’.
This is something we’ve never seen in our lifetime. We will get through this, but the only way we get through this is by helping each other. This is our humanity. It’s about empathy, care, and kindness. We will get through this, but only if we look out for each other. It seems the longer we stay apart, the closer we get.