We've said it before -- many times -- and no doubt we'll say it again, but we live in a wonderful community. It didn't take the COVID-19 pandemic to show us this, but it certainly reinforced our love for College Station and Bryan, as well as the surrounding Brazos Valley.
Even as we were warned about the deadly nature of the virus -- there have been more than 30 deaths in the Brazos Valley, half of them in Brazos County and some 400 people in the area have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus -- we knew we had to help. People of all ages pitched in to do whatever they could to ease the suffering in the Brazos Valley.
We have thanked them before, but we can never thank them enough. Our medical workers -- doctors and nurses, EMTs, hospital workers and staff -- have worked longer and hard hours to help COVID-19 patients entrusted to their care. Thankfully, we didn't see the problems of lack of equipment and personal protective equipment that plagued New York City, but our hospitals worked together and were prepared for whatever the pandemic brought.
A special thanks goes to Dr. Seth Sulllivan, the Baylor Scott & White infectious disease specialist in College Station, who serves as Brazos County Alternate Health Authority. His appearances at broadcast media conference have helped allay natural fears of the novel coronavirus. While we received mixed messages from national and state leaders, Dr. Sullivan's authority and demeanor calmed our nervousness/ He provided up-to-date, accurate information, facts the public could handle without panic. He simply has been magnificent.
Thank you also to our elected leaders, especially College Station Mayor Karl Mooney, Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson and County Judge Duane Peters, for supporting Dr. Sullivan and for making important decisions that have kept most of us safe. Some of the measures they made have not been popular, but they have worked together to be consistent throughout the county. At the televised press conferences and in advertising on TV, the leaders made it clear that we needed to social distance and shelter-in-place if at all possible. It obvious the voters made the right choices when electing these three leaders.
Even as restaurant dining rooms were shut down as a necessary precaution, many restaurant owners and managers stayed open for carry-out options. While Brazos County residents still could visit their favorite fast-food drive-thrus, we also had the choice of more substantial meals from traditional dine-in eateries, all without having to leave our vehicle. In doing so, these restaurants kept us fed and provided badly needed jobs to many of their employees. Thank you to the restaurants and the workers who kept us fed the past several weeks.
Many generous residents of the area sent money so the restaurants could provide meals to the medical community, to give them a break from the long hours taking care of the sick. It must have meant a great deal to our doctors and nurses to be able to sit for a bit and enjoy good food.
Thank you also to the employees at our grocery stores and pharmacies who worked overtime to keep us as safe as possible. Many of the stores had curtailed hours so workers thoroughly could disinfect the stores during the night. Clerks also worked hard to keep the shelves as stocked as possible, Many of the stores reserved early hours for elderly residents, the most vulnerable among us. It is hoped, as we go forward, that if there is a reassurance of the novel coronavirus in the fall -- as many medical experts warn -- that all of us will be respectful of each other and not hoard toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. We all will need them and there will be plenty to go around if we just buy what we actually need.
Many parents learned in the past couple months to appreciate our teachers even more than before. When schools shut down in an abundance of caution, teachers worked hard to provide coursework to keep the learning curve moving forward. It is up to parents -- many working from home -- to ensure their children actually were following their school work and still engaged in learning. Many teachers turned to different activities to keep their students at home excited about schoolwork.
Our faith leaders closed their doors to the public and turned to the internet to reach out to their parishioners with the message of God. The comfort those church leaders provide helped considerably to reassure all of us that things will, indeed, get better.
As all these people went about their job in marvelous fashion, the public has been magnificent. Nurses went to New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in America, to volunteer in the overcrowded and overworked hospitals, putting themselves in danger from the virus. Talk about heroes.
When many medical workers in parts of the country were forced to work long hours with little or no masks or gloved or gowns, local people made masks to send to them or to provide to local people who were urged to wear one. While they were not medical grade, these masks provided much comfort and a bit of color to those who donned them.
Some people provided meals to elderly residents who couldn't leave home. School cafeteria workers continued cooking as usual to make meals for children who couldn't make it to school to get breakfast and lunch -- meals normally available to them only at school.
When children or elderly residents had to miss out on birthday or anniversary celebrations, friends and neighbors worked to provide parades or celebrations outside nursing homes windows. Some people did grocery shopping for those quarantined at home.
And the Brazos Valley Food Bank -- what a magnificent organization. For more than 30 years, the food bank has worked hard to provide badly needed food to the food insecure among us, With the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for the services of the Brazos Valley Food Bank has increased drastically. The food bank has established a food assistance hotline for the elderly and ill needing help during the COVID-19 pandemic; it operates Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you need assistance and live in Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Madison, Robertson and Washington counties, call 936-978-0823.
At the same time, the Brazos Valley Food Bank is partnering with Crowdsource Rescue, the Brazos Church Pantry and The Bride to deliver food to the homes of seniors and people with chronic medical conditions, Normally, those in the target groups needing food must go to the Crowdsource Resource website to sign up, but those who can't do that can call the hotline to register.
The boxes of food have been filled and volunteers are eager to deliver them. If you think you qualify for the help, call the hotline. The Brazos Valley Food Bank is eager to help. And, if you can, please donate to the food bank so it can continue its vital work.
There are so many people to thank, we know we have missed some. Please know that however you helped, you are appreciated. You are part of the reason we are so proud to call this place home.
While we are at, we offer praise and encouragement to The Eagle's reporters and editors, the crew at KBTX and KAGS and those at local radio stations for doing such a great job keeping residents of the Brazos Valley informed of all they need to know to make it through the coronavirus pandemic. You show the reason America needs a free and unfettered media. When we needed you the most, you have been there.
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