O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has upended the lives of people across our city, our state, our country, and the world.
Our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens are experiencing the loss of loved ones, concern for the health of their family members, and anxiety about the seemingly endless economic hardship our country is facing.
Business owners are struggling to know when they’ll be able to open up their doors and get their employees back to work, and those who have lost their jobs struggle not knowing when their next paycheck will come.
Then there are those who are still going into work every day. Our health care professionals, police, emergency responders, foodservice and grocery employees and other essential workers are on the front lines of this crisis, putting their health and safety on the line so that we all have access to food, healthcare and other essential services.
New Hampshire has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic just as all other states have, and Manchester has not been immune. Some of our friends and neighbors are sick, and it can be easy to feel helpless during this unprecedented time. None of us know how long this crisis will last, so it’s important that we plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Even in this time of uncertainty, we’ve received overwhelming support and incredible generosity from our community. I want to share a few of the ways that our city, school district and Emergency Operations Center are working to support you and your families.
The state of New Hampshire is due to receive over $1.25 billion dollars in federal stimulus money, and I’m working with the governor and the legislature to make sure Manchester receives our fair share. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen established a Small Business Loan fund that, once the Governor’s Stay at Home order is lifted, will provide low-interest loans to over 40 local small businesses, jump-starting job opportunities for our residents and getting Manchester back to work.
Our Emergency Operations Center, which includes leadership from Manchester Fire, Health, Police, AMR, CMC, Elliot, and the Manchester School District, has been hard at work assessing and reacting to this crisis. In the event that this crisis requires more emergency beds than Manchester’s hospitals are able to accommodate, the Emergency Operations Center has worked to mobilize the Greater Manchester Alternative Care Site at Southern New Hampshire University, which can serve up to 250 patients, and if needed, can be operational at a moment’s notice.
In addition to the statewide 2-1-1 COVID-19 hotline, the City of Manchester has set up a citywide hotline at (603) 668-1547. It operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. for general questions related to COVID-19 and for assistance with basic needs, such as food delivery and is available for Manchester residents.
When we made the necessary decision to close our schools in Manchester, our School District redesigned the way that they operate in a matter of days. Our educators adapted lesson plans, created resources for parents, and developed remote learning materials providing remote learning opportunities to all of our students. We implemented a citywide food drop-off program so students who rely on school for their breakfasts and lunches, will not go hungry. Our schools will continue to adapt to ensure students across our city continue.
Right now, our city is faced with a challenge beyond our control. But, it won’t last forever. By being there for one another, by looking out for each other, we will persevere. There continues to be an outpouring of support from our community — words of encouragement, acts of kindness, and donations of time, money, materials and more. There’s a sense of unity like never before. Times of uncertainty test the strength of our character, and it is clear that our community here in Manchester is strong, generous, and resilient.
Thank you for taking COVID-19 seriously. The sacrifices we’re making to keep our community safe and healthy — closing businesses, cancelling events and social distancing — are necessary to stop the spread. The lives of our family, friends and neighbors are at stake. We must stay home and save lives. We’re in this together, and we’ll get through it together. It’s the Manchester way.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? We accept thoughtful prose on timely topics from all points of view. Send to email@example.com, subject line: The Soapbox.
Joyce Craig is serving her second term and is a lifelong Manchester resident.