Adjusting to our ‘new normal’ takes time, effort

Social distancing, global pandemic, flattened curve join everyday lexicon

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We’re practicing social distancing as we try to flatten the curve and get accustomed to our new normal in response to this global pandemic.

There, I used all my new over-used phrases in one sentence. These have recently been added to our everyday lexicon.

I really wasn’t planning to write my column about the coronavirus outbreak because that’s all I’ve been writing about this week.

In fact, I think today’s edition of The Yukon Progress is the first in my 30 years as a professional journalist in which EVERY story I wrote was on the same general subject.

The fear of the unknown has made the public’s reaction to this health crisis much worse that previous issues like the Ebola virus and swine flu. Many of our citizens are worried, and rightfully so, that what has occurred in China and Italy could happen here.

Just the thought of not having enough hospital bed space or enough medical supplies if there is a surge of COVID-19 cases is frightening enough.

We at your Yukon Progress are still conducting business as usual and the staff comes to our office in the Spring Creek Building every day. We do have contingency plans in place in case we need to work from home but are committed to providing the best possible coverage in Yukon for our readers.

I am getting out of my house and not sheltering in place because I fear the onset of extended cabin fever.

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Although all Yukon events have been postponed, there is plenty to report about in our community. We did have to remove the “At A Glance” column that lists major city, civic and school activities.

All Yukon special events and programs planned over the next month have either been suspended indefinitely or canceled.

I was looking forward to covering the Whodunit Mystery Dinner Theater for Compassionate Hands, the City of Yukon’s annual Taste of Yukon, the Yukon Writers Conference, Vietnam Veterans’ Open House, and more.

On a side note, the Yukon City Council will have a special meeting next Tuesday to consider postponing the city’s Oklahoma Natural Gas franchise election that was set April 7. I received my ballot this week and stand ready to have it notarized and mailed in if needed.

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One coronavirus-related story we’re working on for next week is the impact this crisis is having on Yukon social service agencies that provide food and personal hygiene items.

With businesses closing or reducing hours and more residents out of work, these nonprofits will see an influx of people seeking help.

Manna Pantry director Sherri Rogers reported Thursday that Yukon’s emergency food cupboard has already started seeing a surge in its numbers.

As of March 19, there had been 61 families (with 121 adults and 98 children) seeking groceries this week from the Manna Pantry. That total included 30 new clients.

Unfortunately, Manna Pantry is seeing donations drop as supplies run low. The pantry relies on Yukon retailers who regularly give excess food; but that’s all changing.

On a side note, congratulations to Yukon’s Manna Pantry – which is marking its 45th anniversary feeding the hungry. A celebration had been planned this weekend but was canceled due to the COVID-19 concerns.

With a possible economic recession affecting our community, local helping agencies like Manna Pantry, Jacob’s Cupboard, Compassionate Hands, and Yukon Sharing are going to be counted on even more.

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The Oklahoma Gazette is pausing their print edition until the April 8th issue. For more than 40 years, the Oklahoma Gazette has covered arts, entertainment, live music, and events (and even some news) in the Oklahoma City area.

“Due to the recent public health crisis, almost all public gatherings we cover and promote have come to a complete halt,” Publisher Peter J. Brzycki said.

Free copies of the Oklahoma Gazette are distributed primarily via racks at Oklahoma City’s restaurants and bars, which have either closed or are restricting access.

I started my professional newspaper career at the Oklahoma Gazette 30 years ago this year. As a senior at Oklahoma City University, the experience I gained (working with then-Gazette editors Randy Splaingard and Mike Easterling, along with staff writer Ben Fenwick and production manager Linda McCathern) served as a springboard to my first post-graduate job in Yukon.

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As of our press deadline Thursday, it was looking like Yukon schools may be out much longer than first anticipated. All Oklahoma schools already had been closed until April 6. Hopefully our Yukon school leaders establish plans to provide on-line and “virtual” lessons so students will keep learning and teachers will keep teaching.

Just staying inside with nothing constructive to do is not the solution.

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If you are stuck at home looking for something to do – what a great time to fill out your Census 2020 forms. You should have received something about this in the mail. You can complete the documents online, by mail or phone. This is important to make sure Yukon is counted properly and fully represented.