Although it seems like it’s been much longer, it was only a few short weeks back that I debuted a new column here in the News Journal called “What’s Happening.”
The whole premise of this column was to take a look at things happening in and around our local community, and talk about them. A pretty simple concept, and under normal circumstances there is certainly no shortage of subject matter. However, pretty much right after I debuted the column our circumstances quickly shifted from “normal” to anything but thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
For the past several weeks it’s been more like “What’s NOT Happening,” but this week I am taking the approach of “What HAS Happened,” as we take a look at just how quickly life changed for all of us after COVID-19 started dominating the headlines.
In order to accomplish this, I have gone back and looked through each edition of our paper since the New Year. I thought it’d be interesting to revisit some of the things that we were talking about from week-to-week leading up to the pandemic, and the many negative effects that it has caused. I jump ahead in a few spots, but here is the rundown…
Jan. 15 – In honor of the WWE’s live show at the Arena, Mayor Suzie Razmus signed a proclamation renaming the city to King Corbin, KY for one day at the request of superstar wrestler “King” Baron Corbin.
Jan. 29 – NFL quarterback Drew Brees is announced to speak at the next Forcht Leadership even at the University of the Cumberlands in April.
Feb. 12 – Whitley County experiences the third worst flooding event on record.
Feb. 19 – US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell visits Corbin for a fundraiser held at the home of Terry and Marion Forcht.
March 4 – Hometown Bank announces plans to begin work on a new permanent Williamsburg branch, the Annual Cumberland Falls Cleanup event is set to take place on March 28.
March 11 – In what I believe is the first appearance of a coronavirus-related story in print, the University of the Cumberlands says classes will continue as scheduled after Spring Break. Also, the Butcher’s Pub in Williamsburg plans a Saint Patrick’s Day grand opening. Local nursing homes suspend visitation due to growing concerns about COVID-19.
March 18 – The Corbin Utilities Commission delays cutoffs and late fees. Area schools cancel in-person classes. Judge Executive Pat White Jr. declares a state of emergency. The University of the Cumberlands goes online for the remainder of the semester. Corbin City Commission votes to suspend collection of alcohol taxes. Baptist Health Corbin adds visitor restrictions. Williamsburg City Hall closes to the public.
March 25 – COVID-19 cases are confirmed in Laurel and McCreary Counties. Area schools extend NTI days. Firestone plant in Williamsburg announces temporary layoffs. A COVID testing facility is established in Williamsburg. Area restaurants settle into new routine of accepting carry out orders only, plus many other reports pertaining to coronavirus.
April 1 – Playgrounds and ball fields close to the public. Local government meetings move online.
Last week – Coronavirus is confirmed with cases in Whitley and Knox Counties. Hospitals prepare for a potential spike in COVID-19 patients. Social distancing, and the wearing of personal protective equipment has become the “new normal.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but that WWE live event seems like it was about a year ago. And it’s mind-blowing to see just how quickly the situation escalated in just one week’s time, from March 11 to March 18.
In many ways, we were living in a different world back in January and February. Whenever we do reach the other side of this pandemic, I honestly believe that things will never quite be the same. Whenever we gather, greet one another or spend time with the sick and/or elderly, I think this crisis will forever be present in our minds.
And you know what? Maybe that’ll be a good thing in some ways. Perhaps the silver lining is that this crisis will have forced us all to be a little more careful in our day-to-day interactions with people, and to be more mindful of our own cleanliness and hygiene. Those things can’t hurt, whether we happen to be experiencing widespread illness or not.
In the meantime, stay safe and thanks for reading.