Here are 5 ways you can maintain your mental health in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic
2020 predictions for Abilene never saw this coming.
A new word has entered everyday vocabulary to describe the disrupter: coronavirus. COVID-19 upended the city’s ebbs and flows like an avalanche wiping out a highway.
“One thing that is striking for me is that something that can originate in a land far beyond the land we know in China can have implications in Abilene, Texas,” Mayor Anthony Williams said.
Sunday marks one month since the news conference to announce the first confirmed case in Abilene. By the end of the day March 26, there were two.
In the days that followed, the fanfare of new cases was replaced with regular updates on the city of Abilene’s Facebook page and website.
Hendrick Health System CEO Brad Holland holds the COVID-19 Screening and Treatment chart during Thursday's press conference March 26, 2020. Holland announced the first positive coronavirus test result for Taylor County belonging to a man in his forties. (Photo: Ronald W. Erdrich/Reporter-News)
As of Saturday, the Abilene Taylor County Health Department reported 216 confirmed cases of the illness. Three patients have died, and 71 have recovered. There were six hospitalized, and 136 self-isolating while receiving care. (Complete demographic information on all patients is not always available.)
More: Rapid antibody testing available in Abilene, despite COVID-19 cluster at health department
Dealing in unknowns
City officials plan for public emergencies, such as weather-related devastation and catastrophic events.
“On the council, we’ve had to deals with floods and tornadoes and other crises that occurred, but one thing about those events is that they had a start point and then they had an end point, then you had recovery," Williams said. "You could manage that.”
COVID-19, however, is different.
“This, not only do we not know what the end point is, we’re not sure what even next week will look like,” Williams said. “We have some projections, but because of the ambiguity that this virus represents, it’s all based on best guess hypotheses.”
The changing — and unknown — variables related to the disease have at times complicated executing the community response, Williams said.
More: Coronavirus COVID-19: Abilene hits 216; new cases in Runnels, Coleman counties
“When we go back and look just two weeks ago, when very smart and conscious professionals are making projections on what would occur, those things are so fluid that two days could give you a whole different scenario,” he said.
A month into the coronavirus, the extent and depth of the medical, economic and social ramifications are still unfolding not only in Abilene, but also the state, nation and even China.
In the midst of this journey, a handful of Abilene stakeholders shared their insights thus far in answer to this question: What have we learned about Abilene in this pandemic? If there is one overarching theme to the answers, it may be summed in a word interwoven into many of them: resiliency.
More: 'What makes sense for us': Abilene, West Texas leaders weigh safety of reopening
What have we learned about Abilene in this pandemic?
Despite a false sense of security and self-focus, we are not really in control. Despite fear of the unknown, we are surprisingly resilient in our ability to adjust to most things. And, we don’t spend enough time being thankful for the little things — which is ironic because what we are rediscovering is that there are no “little” things.”
— Downing Bolls, Taylor County judge
If there’s a call for help, Abilene as a community does help. It’s been a positive experience, meaning there are people out there who still care. It’s been a struggle, mentally, physically, making sure that we’re prepared, making sure we have the gear, making sure we follow the rules and making sure I can pay my people. … I’ve got to work.
— Jennifer Cheung-Navejas, Hashi Teppan Grill restaurants owner
From the standpoint of a local physician, the pandemic has shown how the entire medical community has worked in collaboration to take care of the people of the Big Country. The two local hospitals, public health department and county medical society have worked together to prepare, test and now treat patients affected by this virus. It has been great to see the open communication and strategies these groups have displayed to care for the community.
— Dr. John Cole, D.O., Abilene Regional Medical Center chief of staff, general surgeon and Big Country County Medical Society president
I think what we have learned is what we already knew about Abilene and the Big Country. I think it was more of a confirmation, that when times get tough, we come together as a community to lift each other up and help our people and small businesses. This is such a GREAT place to call home.
— Pete Garcia, La Voz 93.3 FM president
I have witnessed firsthand the resiliency of our community during these unprecedented times. The community has worked together in incredible ways to support each other. I have been privileged to work alongside outstanding groups and individuals from across the city, region and state. As we’ve been working toward a common goal — to keep our community safe — we have created a less fragmented and more efficient way of doing things.
— Brad Holland, Hendrick Health System president/CEO
The education community is very versatile and agile. The way teachers and administrators pulled together to totally change the way instruction is delivered and feedback is provided is nothing short of miraculous. I'm also proud of how Abilene ISD, Wylie ISD and area districts supported each other throughout this process.
— Joey Light, Wylie ISD superintendent
With a lack of complete data, it’s impossible to predict exactly how the pandemic will fully impact our region. What I have learned, though, is that we have an impressive group of healthcare leaders who can work together and accomplish an amazing amount of preparation quickly, and an outstanding group of healthcare providers willing to step up and take care of our community.
— Dr. Stephen Lowry, M.D. Hendrick Health System chief of staff
We are proud of our care-giving team for their commitment and sacrifices in response to this pandemic. The Big Country has been extremely generous and supportive of our team, and we appreciate the outpouring of donations. This crisis has strengthened our resolve and commitment — we are here for the community and ready to provide safe, quality care for all medical needs.
— Mike Murphy, Abilene Regional Medical Center CEO
Our community has learned much the same as the rest of the world though this crisis — we need to prepare and remain prepared for the unimaginable. However, Abilene has proven to many of us what we already knew — we're a community of good-hearted helpers, even when we’re hurting ourselves. Abilene is resilient and determined, and our inherent grit will always see our great city through even the toughest of times. We don’t wait for others to come to help us, we take care of our friends and neighbors and our business ourselves.
— Doug Peters, Abilene Chamber of Commerce president/CEO
In the Abilene ISD, we’ve learned that our students, their families and our staff are extremely resilient. Without the benefit of in-person interaction, education is continuing throughout the entire district through home-based learning. Through all of this, I am pleasantly reminded of how incredibly supportive the Abilene community is of its children.
— David E. Young, Abilene ISD superintendent
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Laura Gutschke is a general assignment reporter and food columnist and manages online content for the Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
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