Local leaders have made a bold and unprecedented demand: Groups of 10 or more are prohibited from gathering as communities do what they can to fight coronavirus and its attendant illness, COVID-19.

I know that my husband and I have been working hard to keep my own family safe. We have fully stocked our pantry and refrigerator, and we have restricted all interactions outside of the home. We do get out, though; we love to hike, and we hit the trails just about every nice day. When we encounter others, we give them a wide berth, and most seem to understand, though other hikers may regard our social distancing as strange.

So be it. I’m happy to be strange if it keeps my family healthy, or, conversely, if it keeps us from spreading a virus to someone who is older or immunocompromised.

Here at The Mail, the news continues unabated. That means my staff and I have to get out into the world. When practical, we cover the news through phone interviews, but there is no replacing boots-on-the-ground journalism. If you venture out, you may see us gathering news by conducting interviews from six feet away or taking pictures with an abundance of caution. We work from home when we can, and when we are here in the office, we can find ourselves two separate rooms, taking care to wipe down door handles and surfaces wherever we go.

We are serious about public health, and I support the ban on gatherings as the right thing to do.

As the pandemic forces us to curtail our normal activities, many of us worry about what we might lose. I know I had felt very concerned about disconnecting from my church family. I do not have a lively social calendar, but I look forward to Sunday mornings.

This past Sunday, my church, like many others, took to Facebook live, and I found the format to be so enjoyable. We are a fairly quiet congregation, not prone to shouting out amens, but in the comment area on Facebook we offered a steady stream of appreciative remarks. It was like I was whispering to a neighbor, but there I was, on my own couch with my coffee and my cats.

As a bonus, I was able to attend church at my former church, which I left in 2012 to move to the Show-Me State. It felt so good to be home with my Ohio friends, who were also trying to worship digitally.

It turns out that I’m not missing a thing; the activities I enjoy are just changed, sometimes with surprising pleasures — but I'll be glad to return to normalcy when the global pandemic has ended.

As you go about your day, I urge you to think about people who may not be connected. So many among us in our rural communities do not have internet access, and a lot of older people choose to live in the analog world, rather than the virtual one.

Likewise, some single folks are experiencing social distancing alone, without the comforts of family as they do the responsible thing and stay away from friends.

Let's all be sure to check on one another in these challenging times. Your voice on the other end the phone line could be exactly what a lonely, isolated loved one most needs to hear.

Stay well.

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