Letter: We all have a role in fighting pandemic

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To the editor:

I want to thank everyone who reached out to me last week as I voluntarily worked from home while a colleague awaited the results of a coronavirus test. Fortunately, the test was negative and I was able to return to the office at the end of last week having experienced no symptoms worse than cabin fever.

My few days working remotely proved to be an excellent test for the remote work habits many of us will need to develop and practice in response to COVID-19 as we work to protect ourselves, our staff and the community at large. Over the course of the past week we have taken significant, unprecedented measures — locally and in response to state direction — to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. These have included closing schools and offices, changing the way we handle public meetings, closing bars and restaurants except for delivery and take-out services, and learning to practice "social distancing," while remaining connected to our family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and community members in new ways.

Through all these rapid changes I have been impressed by and grateful to the staff who work for the city of North Adams and the North Adams Public Schools. Their adaptability, candor, thoughtfulness and professionalism amid a rapidly changing situation have been exemplary. Our first responders in the police and fire departments, our public services staff, and those working in City Hall, the library and the senior center all have stepped up and been creative and collaborative in thinking about how we continue to provide a high level of service even in the face of limited public access.

We're also seeing that in our businesses and community-based agencies as people are stepping up to meet needs, offer resources and identify challenges. That's why I'm so proud of our regional emergency management team for including community liaisons in our Northern Berkshire operations center. This is something we all can help with by building networks of support. Reach out to check on your neighbors. Offer to go shopping for an older neighbor. Recommend your favorite TV show or book to pass the time.

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Finally, PLEASE continue to follow the recommendations about social distancing. The more people can avoid gathering in public spaces the more we can do to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This is incredibly important because when we are successful in slowing the spread of the pandemic, we are helping to keep our health care system from getting overwhelmed. It's also important because people who are out in public might be able to spread the virus even if they are not (yet) experiencing symptoms themselves.

It's not easy, but we all have a role to play.

Tom Bernard,

North Adams

The letter writer is the mayor of North Adams.


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