Local Commentary

Keep Connected, Falls Church

By Hans Miller

On a run the other day I saw chain links (sometimes in the shape of a heart) drawn with chalk on a sidewalk. The links led to this message that put a smile on my face. So simple, but expressive. “Keep us connected — FCC.”

The pandemic we are facing is impacting several households and this message can help serve as a simple guide for our actions in the weeks and months ahead. We need to be more than one household, we need to be a community. There are some of us who face real risks from this disease, and others who don’t; but it does and will impact our local and larger community for a long time. The local impact of the necessary restrictions on group gatherings and social interactions and the economic ripples from Wall Street will have a significant impact that no one can fully predict. This will be a long and tough period and we all have a choice to face. Do we approach as a household, or as a community?

A time of crisis is a time to show strength of character and a moral compass. This may be one of the greatest challenges our country has faced since the Great Depression and World War II. Tom Brokaw and others have called that generation “The Greatest Generation” based on a common purpose and common values. How will we look back on our actions at this time and what can we do?

“Keep us connected.” Support each other and take your actions with others in mind. Absolutely we need to take care of our families, but this means getting supplies that are needed and not stockpiling for the unknown. Supply chains work on a rhythm based on our need. If you’re thinking of getting several weeks of supplies, take a pause and think of the family that only has the money to buy what they need at a given time. If it is a medical supply, does the process of stocking up prevent a critical care professional from having what is needed today? Stockpiling is a short-term response and gets you through a little bit of time but eventually we will be at the same point. Maintain a calm rhythm; if we stay connected to each other and only get what we need, we can meet this long-term challenge.

Think of others when making that decision to go out to a gathering as planned or maintain business as usual. We are all vectors of this virus, and for several in our community exposure to the virus could be fatal. There is so much we still have to learn about Covid-19, but one thing is clear, it can spread easily and quickly. Right now the United States has a Covid-19 doubling rate of three days, i.e. the number of cases is doubling every three days. Our health care system will be overrun and exhausted of supplies if this rate does not change. Last week a college student on Spring Break stated “we’re at low risk so I’ll go out as planned and just self quarantine when I get home.” How many cases will come out of that one decision? How many cases will come out of the people gathering at the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms? Each action an individual makes impacts the doubling rate.

Share ideas with the community on how we help each other and our businesses. We have seen people post ideas like helping neighbors who are elderly with groceries, sharing resources on home schooling or buying a gift certificate from a local restaurant and using it later to help them with cashflow in the near-term. Share, discuss, act.

Social distancing in a way is an unfortunate choice of terminology for what we must do. We need to physically remain distant and separated, but we can still be close as a community and within our families. Some families have coordinated with each other to do scavenger hunts looking for objects or signs in windows. This type of activity allows social interaction and participation while maintaining the physical separation. Families may have time together that didn’t exist before. Last Sunday, I saw several more families out walking or bicycling together than I have in the past. Take care of your families, but also remember we are part of a larger community in this together.

Thank you to the residents of Rosemary Lane for your inspiration, I applaud you and your simple message. Keep us connected Falls Church City. Show our strength and let us look back on our actions in this challenging time with pride.