The way we are living our daily lives today looks nothing like it did just over one month ago.
The same goes for how Worthington city services are being provided, how day-to-day government operations are taking place and how Worthington City Council and staff members are responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The rapidly changing situation through the month of March brought state orders to close schools, restaurants and bars and limit large gatherings, as well as a stay-at-home order. The same time period also brought closures to all city buildings and parks facilities and changes in how we are holding public meetings and interacting with each other and the public.
If you're like me, the daily 2 p.m. news conferences from Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton have become must-see TV.
Our public-health partners have been steadfast in their commitment to protecting our community, as well as a reassuring voice and source of factual information. We join with them in reinforcing the message to stay home, stay well and continue to practice social distancing.
We want to make it easy for residents to access information about what is happening in our community during these unique times and what you can do to help stop the spread. We are compiling a large amount of information on our website at worthington.org/coronavirus where we are posting daily Worthington situation updates, health and community resources and more information about how you can help or receive assistance if you are in need. There is a wealth of information available to help residents navigate this difficult time, and we are doing everything we can to help support and guide you along the way.
There is a lot of uncertainty about when community events and city services might return to normal. Difficult decisions are being made every day that are based on the advice of public-health experts to protect the safety and health of our community.
Although our buildings remain closed for the time being, the city definitely still is open for business.
Worthington City Council continues to meet virtually, with 7:30 p.m. Monday meetings streaming live and on demand at worthington.org/live.
Most of our administrative staff members now are working from home, answering your calls and questions, fulfilling requests and making sure essential services are up and running.
Our parks and recreation staff members have moved programming to the virtual environment through our Remote Recreation offerings on Facebook to give you something to do while at home.
Service crews still are performing important tasks to keep our infrastructure and properties safe and clean, and, of course, first responders are on the front lines protecting the health and safety of our community.
The change in our culture and how we have adapted to these orders happened very quickly, but an emergency such as this is something the city of Worthington and all public agencies train and prepare for.
When the emergency was declared, the city quickly launched its pandemic-response strategies, tailoring them to the specific situation involving the coronavirus, and instituted our emergency-management procedures.
Our team members check in daily and are working hard to assure that city operations and services continue, our residents and business community are safe, informed and supported, and we are prepared to return to a new normal when it is responsible and safe to do so.
I am extremely proud of our residents for remaining positive and supporting each other during this health emergency.
Though these are uncertain times, our community is standing strong, thanks to the support and caring residents are showing for one another. There are so many examples of people spreading uplifting messages, whether through chalk drawings on their sidewalks and driveways or with signs in the windows, or through generous gestures of compassion by delivering much needed food and supplies to neighbors in need.
We are grateful to all of you for helping each other, sharing ideas for things to do at home with your families, supporting our local businesses by buying gift cards or ordering food for carryout or delivery, continuing to buy your fresh produce and foods from the drive-thru farmers market or offering supportive messages to our first responders through the city's Facebook page. Each one of these steps means our community will remain safe, well and connected.
As we look to what our new normal might look like in the coming months, you can rest assured your city will support you and stands with you ... even if it is from a 6-foot distance, for now.
Matt Greeson is Worthington's city manager.