Letter: Serious crisis must be treated seriously

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To the editor:

First the disclaimer: I hope every single word of this letter is wrong.

In Berkshire County right now, we are facing an unprecedented medical, humanitarian and economic crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic. Do not take comfort from the headlines telling us there have been only a few handfuls of confirmed cases. These low numbers do not signal community resilience to the virus; they signal that an effective testing process has not yet been deployed, in our region, in our state, in our country. Focusing on the mortality rate of the seasonal flu is a dangerous waste of your time right now. COVID-19 is many times more infectious and 10 to 20 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. It has been circulating broadly across the United States for many weeks, and it will now crash into our region like a silent tsunami.

Let's wake up to this fact right now and respond not with panic, but with meaningful action. What can you do?

— Protect yourself and your family by following all of the CDC guidelines, including social distancing.

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— If you have the capacity, check on your neighbors and senior citizens in your life. Offer to buy groceries or provide assistance for folks who are in high-risk categories.

— Show some love and respect for health care professionals and first responders; they are on the front lines of this crisis and will be experiencing extraordinary stress.

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— If you lead an organization, take steps to protect the health of your employees and link arms with other business partners to help as many businesses and nonprofits as possible withstand this economic shock.

— If you have the financial resources, keep an eye out for some emergency response funds which will be set up soon. The more money we can raise, the more people we can help withstand this crisis.

The impact of this pandemic will be heartbreaking. We will lose people we care about. Life in Berkshire County as we knew it is about to change dramatically. The impact is deep, but it is not forever.

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We will get to the other side of this, by sticking together. We need to act creatively, collaboratively and quickly. Please educate yourself and start taking action today.

John Bissell,

Pittsfield

The writer is president of Greylock Federal Credit Union, chairman of 1Berkshire and on the board of Berkshire Health Systems.


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