To the Editor:

Last week when a restaurant in town defied the governor’s orders and reopened, I was disheartened because of the potential negative impacts on the health of our community. For me, it also felt personal because my husband is on the front lines. He is a paramedic and firefighter, and we have been living apart for over a month to protect the health of our family. The reopening felt like a step backward that could accelerate the pandemic in our state.

Rather than dwell on those actions, there are numerous steps our community has taken to protect public health for which I am grateful and that deserve recognition. I was in the Bethel Post Office last weekend, and I was thankful that so many of the patrons wore masks, which our healthcare officials now say is important for stopping the spread of the virus by people who do not even know they are infected. I ordered bagels this week from Café DiCocoa and was able to donate to the food pantry; thank you for giving us that option! My husband went shopping for the family and told us about the precautions the Shop and Save and Western Maine Supply are taking to keep us socially distanced. Earlier this year, Sunday River closed its doors before the normal season would end and Gould Academy closed its campus, helping prevent the spread of the virus from distant places where it is more prevalent. These are but a few of the many efforts. Thank you to individuals and businesses that have made difficult, often heart-wrenching choices to stay home and stay closed while we deal with this terrible virus. Thank you for taking actions that consider the rights of everyone and for valuing each and every life in our community.

None of us will emerge unaffected, and we will certainly not be financially better off. However, no amount of money can buy back lives or give families back time lost with loved ones. With many businesses opening up over the next couple of weeks, we are getting closer to returning to some form of “normalcy.” Let us be respectful of the altered business operations and new restrictions – keep social distance, wear face masks – so we do not rush into this next phase and give the virus a chance to tighten its grip. Thank you to everyone who is sacrificing for the greater good.

Karen Bieluch

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