Neal Mug

Jeff Neal

As I sit here in an empty newsroom writing this column, it’s easy to let the gloom-and-doom mentality creep in.

There is no after-work basketball game or big boxing match to look forward to.

We can’t even go out to dinner.

It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself in this climate.

It’s now that you need to look at the big picture — and think about people other than yourself.

As of Saturday, Kentucky had reported 87 cases of the dreaded COVID-19 — aka, the coronavirus.

Neighboring Tennessee had 372, up from 228 the previous day. Ohio had 247.

So why does heavily-populated Ohio have fewer cases than Tennessee? Why does Kentucky have fewer than 100 cases?

The key is leadership. Tennessee has done little during this crisis, while Kentucky and neighboring Ohio have been on the front lines fighting tooth and nail.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, have both responded to the coronavirus disaster with incredible calm and common-sense decisiveness.

They both were among the first in the nation to shut down bars and restaurants.

Both have gone before the cameras for daily coronavirus updates, ordering disruptions to everyday life in an attempt to slow the spread of the global pandemic.

And the decisions being made are not easy ones.

Beshear called for church services to be canceled during this crisis and he took some backlash. Now most local church leaders are seeing that providing video-streamed services is what they need to do in order to be good, responsible citizens.

It’s not easy to keep kids out of school, or to shutter local business.

In Pulaski County, many eateries, watering holes, gyms and child care centers have closed. Those businesses, and the people who are employed by them, now have a limited income. Andy Beshear did not want to inflict that kind of hardship on them — but when you serve the greater good, you have to do what’s best for everyone.

Even Republicans, both local and statewide, are applauding Beshear’s efforts. They may not agree with his politics — but they admire his crisis management.

“This nonpartisan crisis situation has been right in his wheelhouse and he’s knocked it out of the park so far,” said Republican strategist Scott Jennings.

By and large, you can give high marks to the Republican national leadership provided by President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence. While Trump isn’t exactly a calming influence, he’s working hard to get aid out to the people who need it — both private citizens and financial pillars.

Senator Mitch McConnell and Somerset’s Congressman Hal Rogers have both worked tirelessly, with both their fellow Republicans and Democrats alike, to pass emergency legislation that will benefit all of us during this mess.

And last but certainly not least, Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck and Lake Cumberland Area Health Department Director Shawn Crabtree have not only been transparent, but also reassuring, during this difficult time.

Keck, like Beshear, has met with his constituents several times during the crisis via Facebook Live. The atmosphere with Keck’s video chats are not sterile and laced with COVID-19 statistics — they’ve been up-lifting. And heaven knows we can use upbeat reassurances during this time.

Kelley has mobilized county government and has done a wonderful job keeping us informed. But through it all, the message is clear: We will get through this, if we work together.

So don’t get too upset because you can’t sit down at your favorite local restaurant — instead, give them a call and order carry-out. You can still enjoy a meal from your favorite local eatery with your family. Whenever possible during this crisis, shop and eat locally to support your neighbors.

No sports to watch? Enjoy a movie or that good Netflix series you’ve heard about.

And most importantly, listen to our leaders. Follow CDC guidelines on social distancing. Stay at home whenever possible.

This isn’t about you or me. This is about all of us. And it’s important that we do everything in our power to keep this virus in check.

If we all work together, it will hasten the day we can have normal again.

JEFF NEAL is the Editor of the Commonwealth Journal. Contact him at jneal@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jnealCJ.

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