A year ago, no one knew about COVID-19 or how it would change our lives. Today, escaping COVID-19’s distressing and deadly news is impossible. In the nine months since our lives have been upended by this disease, I’ve come to see the Huntington area as an ideal place to ride out this pandemic.
My views are shaped by my experiences and those of local friends, but also largely influenced by contacts in New York, California, Chicago and Miami. They note the constant crowds, monstrous numbers of hospitalizations, periodic extreme restrictions and immense social gatherings that aggravate the situation.
Friends in more rural areas, such as eastern Long Island, Vermont and northern Montana report that their small communities have been “discovered” by people from major cities who are frantically trading their cramped apartments, traffic jams and out-of-sight living costs for private homes in calmer areas.
This trend is likely to continue since many businesses have realized that their employees can be equally effective working from home as long as they have quality internet connectivity. Huntington City Council recently appropriated funds for a local business to entice people to move to Huntington. I’ve advocated this for years, and if ever there was a perfect time for such activity, it is now.
Obtaining food, medicine, clothing, home supplies and more has been relatively easy here. In-person shopping and dining has worked well with proprietors and customers observing workable sanitizing, mask and social-distancing arrangements. Many retail establishments and restaurants have also made contactless shopping easy. To support our local restaurants and to give my husband, Maury, a respite from my cooking, we’ve had some great take-home meals from Huntington’s American, Asian, Greek and Italian restaurants.
Fortunately, the Huntington area has developed into a regional health care center. During this crisis period, Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center — both now part of the Mountain Health Network (MHN) — and the Cabell-Huntington Health Department have supported the community through multiple COVID-19 testing sites, medical care and hospitalizations. And we’ve needed them. Last week, MHN’s data indicated that our ICUs were close to full.
Marshall University has been successful in keeping freshmen and some graduate students on campus with very few COVID-19 cases; many universities failed in this endeavor. Even Marshall’s football team remained healthy and able to have a reasonable number of fans present with many exciting wins.
Cabell County Schools remained on a flexible schedule with most pupils spending some time in actual classrooms without a major outbreak of illnesses. Children in many other states, including my grandchildren in Illinois, haven’t been in a classroom since mid-March.
Our personal joy has been Ritter Park’s walking paths, where our daily strolls provide exercise and places to see friends at a safe distance.
We are all so ready to bid 2020 adieu, and the vaccines’ arrival means that there is light at the end of this difficult-to- navigate tunnel. Meanwhile, continue sensible precautions to prevent COVID-19’s spread and appreciate that Huntington is an ideal place to ride out this pandemic.