This is not the original editor’s note I wrote for this issue. The original note I wrote about overhauling my basement in a spring cleaning purge and how stressful it was to get rid of perfectly good empty boxes I had accumulated over the past year. But as we neared publication time, and the world was trying to figure out how to navigate unprecedented times in dealing with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, I felt that I needed to have different words for our readers.

I am typically a pretty positive person. I naturally try to find the good in a situation, the silver lining takeaway. I am generally not an alarmist, don’t panic easily and always try to take deep breaths and focus on all the good through life’s most challenging times. But over the past weeks I’ve found myself at times drifting away with thoughts of how bad this could get and how long it could last.

But then I’ve seen these little glimpses of humanity and positivity that are poking through the cloud of confusion and fear, and I have found it fantastically inspiring. To be honest, I’m not surprised. I’ve lived in Carroll County much of my life and this county is comprised of many small communities who rally and support each other when the going gets tough.

I’m figuring out how to cope with this new, hopefully temporary, normal by watching those around me. Here’s what I’m learning:

Help where you can. When schools first closed, there were teachers putting themselves out there to help students in all types of subjects even if the students weren’t their own. I’ve seen people helping their neighbors who can’t get to the grocery store, people promoting small businesses who are finding ways to serve the community in spite of being partially closed.

Stay engaged with current events and please find reliable and credible sources for your news. This is a terrible time to be spreading misinformation, and there is plenty of it out there. Don’t believe everything you hear and maintain a very high standard for the places you get news. Just because it’s a flashy headline on Facebook does not mean it’s true – fact-check it before passing it on.

Talk about it. I have seen plenty of partisan, political chatter swirling around this virus outbreak, but I have also seen some very refreshing conversation and dialogue happening. For the first time in a long time, I’ve seen instances where people are actually having a conversation to learn and understand and exchange information and ideas as opposed to just making noise with the goal of being right in the end.

We are forced to be at home, socially distancing ourselves for the collective safety of the community, but I’ve seen so many embracing the opportunity to slow down. Families usually overbooked and running from sunup to sundown are sitting down to meals together, going on hikes together, playing games, doing yardwork, talking.

Use the expansive technology available to keep in touch. Check in on older friends and family members who may be struggling in isolation, check in on your social media feeds to see how others are managing, call your great-aunt in Florida you lost track of because you’re always too busy to call.

Please share the lessons you’re learning and the tips you have for getting through the chaos at Please be smart and stay safe. I strongly believe that collectively, we’ll be OK.