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Dear friends and neighbors,

We are living in an unprecedented time in our recent history, with this COVID -19 situation. 

The only other state of affairs like this I'm aware of is the polio situation our country experienced in the early 1950's that my parents told me about. 

I know families with young children today are trying to explain to their children what is going on and why as well.

Everyone, from the president down to our city administration and the local public health community, are doing what they can to help limit the spread of this infectious disease. 

I know it's confusing when you see schools being closed, businesses closed and being told to stay away from people as much as possible for what seems to be just a little flu. 

This virus is more than a little flu and there is no vaccine or immediate cure to stem the tide of its progression. 

All we can do to slow its spread is practice federal and state guidelines on social distancing and personal hygiene. Our priority is to help contain the spread of the virus in the public.

Be assured, while this is a tough time for everyone and some will sacrifice more than others, and it will last longer than anyone wants it to, it will get better. All of us have to have a little faith that everything will work out in the end for the best.

Early on, we took steps to help protect your health and safety by closing all our indoor parks and recreation facilities to help limit large public gatherings in enclosed spaces that help spread infectious diseases. 

City Hall has been closed to the general public and we encourage everyone to conduct their business with us via telephone — 252-533-2800 —  or internet usage www.roanokerapidsnc.com — whenever possible. 

The fire department had to suspend its outreach and community safety programs such as child safety seat installation/review, smoke alarm installation and fire extinguisher/CPR training, but will still respond to all fire and emergency calls. 

The two stations are also closed to the general public. 

Other departments are also still conducting normal operations but may have to reduce their resources — teleworking, staggered work schedules, etc. — to assist our efforts at social distancing to help the public stay healthy and strong.

I'm sure just about everyone has seen or heard what they can do to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of the virus. 

I feel it's important to list them again:

Practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet apart whenever possible.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol­ based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve — not your hands — when coughing or sneezing.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Stay home when you are sick.

Avoid contact with sick people.

Avoid non-essential travel.

An information hotline sponsored by the United Way has been established for anyone affected by the virus situation who needs assistance finding food, paying  housing bills, or other essential services. 

Just dial 211 for information and assistance.

As of this writing, the state and federal governments are trying to put together an aid package for individuals and businesses. 

Our economy, like everyone else's, will take a hit with many businesses now being directed to close or curtail their operations. 

Whenever possible, we need everyone to shop and buy local to help especially our small businesses weather these trying times.

Remember, the numbers of reported cases today are those people who got sick a week or two ago. 

There are many people who have gotten sick today who don't even know they're sick yet. It'll take another week or two for those cases to receive a positive test. 

The number of people getting sick will grow exponentially unless we all do what is needed now. Without taking the extreme measures being asked of us, the healthy and hopeful among us will doom the susceptible.

It is during times such as we are currently going through that it is important to us to rely on our faith. 

In doing so, we can be rest assured that all things have a purpose. 

Many of the events in our lives we cannot understand. 

What I do feel is that just as similar difficulties have become a part of history, the virus will also do the same.

Emery G. Doughtie

Mayor of Roanoke Rapids