Editorial: The best and the worst of us

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It’s hard to believe that this is the third edition since coronavirus stories first began to appear in the pages of the Southington Observer. So much has happened since we were putting together that March 13 edition under the growing pressure of reporting preparation plans as they happened, along with sports cancellations and the governor’s first executive order. Since then, schools and businesses have closed, the state started issuing daily updates about COVID-19 cases, and the governor has issued a “Stay Safe, Stay Home” order that has most residents hunkered down for the long haul.

At this point, our newsroom has seen it all—the best and the worst—as folks begin to settle in to this new normal.

At first, we were a little disillusioned when store shelves were decimated during a mass of toilet paper hoarding runs that looked like Black Friday mob scenes or Bridezilla gown stampedes. We heard about price gouging on the internet including everything from hand sanitizer and soap to toilet paper and paper towels (quickly policed by those internet sites). One member of our newsroom actually overheard a conversation in a local store aisle where two residents were concocting a local price gouging scheme. It was deplorable. When we walked through parking lots strewn with used rubber gloves discarded by frenzied shoppers, we had a lot of concerns about Southington’s future.

But we’re happy to say that we’ve seen things turn around quite remarkably over the past few weeks. As we’ve explored Southington’s streets and Southington’s many social media sites, we’ve seen an emergence of the character that we’ve come to expect from this town’s residents.

When Bloom Yoga was forced to shutter its doors, co-owners used their toilet paper overstock to organize a unique donation drive for local charities (http://southingtonobserver.com/local-news/tp-giveaways-are-a-good-start-donations-for-charities-scs-and-bfl/). We saw posts about teachers forming a car caravan to check on their homebound students. We saw town councilors putting aside politics and offering hopeful public service announcements. Rev. Victoria Triano even organized a bell-ringing event to let our neighbors know that we’re okay.

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We are starting to see a tidal wave of good will wash across the town and the internet, and we hope that trend continues. It’s hard to keep Southington’s residents down.

Jack Perry’s Southington Strong page on Facebook is a must see. Our newsroom would like to jump on the bandwagon and send our own birthday wishes to Leslie Taricani’s son, who celebrated his 10th birthday after his mom’s online post drew more than 80 comments in the first 30 minutes, followed by hundreds over the next few hours.

As we were going to press, we learned about a sidewalk chalk initiative at SoCCA that was spearheaded by Mary DeCroce (and probably inspired by the many young artists that were already writing inspirational quotes on their driveways or family members setting up front yard displays). The  SoCCA director took it one step further, setting up a table at SoCCA (93 Main St.) just across the street from the town green. While supplies last, the table will be filled with all the free chalk supplies needed to add a little color to our lives.

Finally, a special thank you goes out to all the town workers who continue to go to work and keep essential services going. We know that this work comes at great personal risk. On Monday, a Bristol City Hall worker contracted the virus as did a Bristol Hospital employee last Friday. We appreciate all the town workers and the state workers that are so committed to these efforts to hold back a virus.

To everyone, stay safe and stay healthy.

To comment on this editorial or to contact Southington Observer editor John Goralski, email him at Editor@SouthingtonObserver.com.