Just last week, all of us were trying to get adjusted to the large amount of rain received over the previous days and weeks which caused flooding, road closures and even school closures in our area. With weather projections not forecasting rain and warmer temperatures on the horizon, hopes were high the water would recede quickly and life would return to normal. 

Fast forward a week and my how things have changed.

COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus, has been on the minds of most Americans after being named a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) March 11. 

The virus has caused the cancellation or postponement of several mainstays in national and local sports as the National Basketball Association (NBA) postponed its season due to a positive diagnosis of one of its players. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled March Madness, its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Major League Baseball postponed all spring training games and pushed back the start of the regular season while local high school sports have been postponed for two weeks and the remainder of the middle school spring sports season has been canceled. 

As more information started to come out concerning the virus, the possibility of area school and church closures was discussed and area businesses began to take precautionary steps to ensure the safety of workers and the public. 

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp asked for schools to consider closing for two weeks to help stop the spread of the virus and most have heeded his call. As of press time, all area schools have announced some type of closure for the next few weeks, including Pierce County Schools which closed yesterday, March 17, and will remain closed through March 30. 

Saturday, March 14, Gov. Kemp declared the first public health emergency in Georgia history. The declaration gives the Governor additional authority to deal with the crisis. The Georgia legislature passed resolutions ratifying the declaration Monday, March 16. The Senate resolution passed unanimously  while clearing the House with a vote of 142-1. Some of the authority given to the Governor is the ability to limit the size of public gatherings and restrict travel. 

The Georgia primary set for March 24 was delayed until May 19 and as of March 15 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all gatherings of more than 50 people be delayed for the next eight weeks, prompting more discussions locally and nationally. 

United States President Donald Trump declared March 15 as a National Day of Prayer and encouraged prayer for our country during this trying time. I believe we should continue that call to pray for Pierce and surrounding counties, the state of Georgia, the United States and everyone across the world effected by COVID-19.

I encourage everyone to be patient with each other. This is an unprecedented circumstance, but if we work together, it can be navigated more smoothly. 

•Matt Gardner is the Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email him at mgardner@theblacksheartimes.com.