If there’s one sign of hope amid the uncertainty and fear surrounding the novel coronavirus, it’s been the community groups across West Virginia that have stepped up — whether it be supplying meals to the less fortunate, gathering supplies for medical workers or organizing safe community events, like vehicle parades.
Although this particular event is unique among hardships that have hit West Virginia and the United States, like any crisis, it’s brought out some of the worst in people, but also some of the best.
Take Aiden Taylor, of Clay County, for instance. A 16-year-old high-school sophomore from Wallback, Taylor has been helping distribute masks to health care workers and emergency responders, along with hand sanitizer and other supplies. Clay County didn’t see its first positive COVID-19 case until last week, quickly followed by another. The county, like a lot of places in West Virginia, is fertile ground for the virus, with a population that is generally older and more susceptible to infection.
What’s particularly impressive in Taylor’s case, is that his organization, the Clay County Community Emergency Response team, was already tackling other problems in the community and was able to mobilize for a response before the pandemic hit.
Granted, Clay County has hardly been overrun by the virus — at least in terms of documented cases — but having a group with 50 volunteers that can shift gears to the crisis at hand is almost a luxury, given the problems state and federal government agencies have had in forming a unified response. That’s not to say the Clay emergency-response team is supplanting those efforts, but it’s certainly bolstering them.
While not every West Virginia county has a 16-year-old with Taylor’s certifications (he’s trained in naloxone administration, sports medicine and bullying prevention, among other things), just about every county has a local group or groups that are doing what they can to help virus prevention at home and medical personnel across the country — sewing masks, using 3D printers to manufacture medical splash guards and other efforts.
That’s encouraging, even as some try to morph this dangerous situation into a political issue, and the news from medical experts continues to suggest the virus might not really be contained until there is a vaccine or other medical treatment. It’s good to know that many Americans are looking at what they can do and pitching in, rather than contributing to division and cynicism.