The shutdown around the nation started in mid-March, which seems like forever ago. After two months of responding to rapidly changing events, the district commissioners and I are looking to the future and how we can help Gwinnett come out on the other side of this stronger than ever.
It was an unknown coronavirus that appeared on the other side of the world. It spread quickly. From one country to another. On cruise ships. In nursing homes.
It quickly became a global pandemic. President Trump declared a national emergency. Governor Kemp declared a public health emergency for the state. And I declared a local state of emergency here in Gwinnett.
County employees are often frontline, first responders. They provide police, fire, and emergency medical response. They operate water and sewer systems or maintain roads and traffic signals. Courts. Jail. People depend on us 24/7. Most of us at the County can’t stay home until a crisis is over.
I am eternally grateful to our County employees and their families who face every emergency that comes along. Tornadoes. Ice storms. Now, this. They never stopped providing the services you depend on. Frontline employees and even volunteers put themselves and their families at risk. So did the medical professionals at hospitals and in the county health department. Others helped the effort by volunteering and ensuring the amazing nonprofits in Gwinnett had the resources to serve the community when so many more of our neighbors needed help.
Now we’re gradually reopening those County facilities that have been closed while continuing to provide the services that never stopped. We’re getting CARES Act grants out to nonprofits. We’re working to help Gwinnett businesses and the local economy recover. We’re starting our summer meals programs early, joining with Gwinnett County Public Schools to make sure between us that students who depend on school lunches get the nutrition they need during out of school time. And, we’ve been delivering more meals to seniors than ever. We’re following guidance from public health leaders as we strive to keep everyone as safe as we possibly can.
This is a big election year and some are fearful of going to the polls, including many seniors who work as election staff. So we’re making sure that polling places are safe and providing convenient drop-off locations for absentee ballots.
Our normal routines were disrupted. Our response was nothing we had ever experienced before, but together we flattened the curve and kept our local hospitals from being overwhelmed. Thank you for your patience and understanding, and thanks to everyone who pitched in to help in ways big and small.
Please persevere. Stay socially but not emotionally distant. Wash your hands often and consider wearing a mask when you may not be able to maintain distance. Let’s make a point of shopping locally and patronizing our local restaurants. Say thank you to the grocery store staff and the medical professionals alike. Share a thumbs up with others you meet as we all seek a return to something like normal. In the meantime, take care and stay safe. God bless you all.