Shaken but united, Americans pull together to battle coronavirus
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[March 14, 2020]
By Nathan Layne
WILTON, Conn (Reuters) - When residents of
Wilton, Connecticut, first learned one of their own had contracted
coronavirus, they naturally worried about infections spreading across
their quiet New England hometown.
But they did more than worry; they also offered their help. Neighbors
began dropping off groceries for the patient's wife and their four-month
old twin boys. Some pitched in by delivering medication, while others
sent flowers to cheer up the household.
"That's classic Wilton," First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said.
"There are some advantages to being in a small town because we all know
each other and trust each other."
It's not just Wilton. Across the United States, a fast-spreading virus
that has infected at least 1,600 Americans, killed at least 47 and
upended daily life has also drawn people together in ways emergencies
From celebrities to teachers, from New York to New Mexico, a week in
which coronavirus created waves of anxiety, it also gave rise to acts of
Take Atlanta's close-knit East Atlanta Village. Within an hour of
posting on a blog her offer to help the elderly and anyone who was
house-bound, Meredith Lipman said she had already heard from about a
dozen neighbors willing to pitch in.
"People just want to join in and do the same thing, help me do this,"
said Lipman, a teacher at a local school for the deaf.
In New York's Brooklyn borough, Jane Trachet, 41, organized a food drive
for a soup kitchen and women's shelter where supplies were running low.
Soon after posting a plea for donations to a Facebook group, she
collected four large Ikea bags, packed with tuna, peanut butter and
Author Shea Serrano, a popular Twitter user who frequently engages with
his fans on social media to help pay small bills, put out an offer to
provide financial help to those impacted by coronavirus.
"Ain't nothing to it — me and my internet friends mostly spend all our
time making fun of each other on the internet but sometimes we like to
try and put some good energy in the universe — that's why we did it,"
Serrano told Reuters.
It's a reaction that frequently occurs in times of crisis. Whether the
aftermath of a natural disaster, a mass shooting or the attacks of Sept.
11, 2001, small and large acts of generosity often follow tragedy.
Vaile Wright, director of clinical research at the American
Psychological Association, says that reaching out to assist others helps
many people regain their footing in times of crisis. "One way to counter
that feeling of anxiety and lack of control is to engage in acts of
kindness," she said.
[to top of second column]
Heather Borden Herve, editor of the local website Good Morning
Wilton who published an article about the wife of the coronavirus
patient, speaks to a reporter in Wilton, Connecticut, U.S., March
12, 2020. Picture taken March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Nathan Layne
FILLING THE VOID
Rabbi Jonathan Leener sensed his synagogue members needed a way to
congregate while keeping a safe distance from one another. So he
organized a virtual "hang" on Facebook before sunset on Friday, when
Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, begins and the observant refrain from
using electric devices.
"We were trying to think creatively about how to fill this huge
void," Leener said, referring to the inability to congregate as
usual for worship. "Some ritual or gathering to mark this kind of
bizarre moment that we are experiencing."
Others have sought to address the problems created by school
closings, which have left children who depend on school lunch and
without other resources vulnerable.
Using grant money from the state of New Mexico, the Kit Carson
Electric Cooperative in Taos County is running broadband internet to
low and moderate income families free of charge to allow students to
work from home after schools were closed. Local non-profits and
schools are seeking donated and borrowed devices for the children.
Resource concerns are generally not top of mind in Wilton, an
affluent suburb of New York City. But to the wife of the coronavirus
patient, who is in a medically induced coma at a nearby hospital,
the community's support has been a lifeline. She and her twins
remain quarantined at home.
"They have just come out of the woodwork and gone above and beyond,"
she said, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect her family's
privacy. "I hope to pay it forward to another resident in the future
who is of need."
(Reporting by Nathan Layne; Additional reporting by Andrew Hay in
Taos, New Mexico, Rich McKay in Atlanta, Brad Brooks in Austin,
Texas, and Maria Caspani, Gabriella Borter, Lauren Young and Laila
Kearney in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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