Column: Our new normal comes with pain, calls for sacrifice


I was trying to come up with one word to describe the last week in Galion.

I don’t think that is possible.

Unbelievable kind of works, but this new normal goes beyond that.

How about frightening?

Each new head-count projection makes me cringe. I turned 60 a few months ago. I’m one of those more susceptible to coronavirus.

I don’t stay up at night worrying about this. But I do worry about friends and family getting sick

All of us are still trying to get a hand on COVID-19.

How long does is a person who conttacts it contagious?

Five days? Seven Days? Two weeks? Twenty-one days?

We have no idea. Because there is nothing to compare this virus, too.

This is an original and we don’t have it figured out yet.

The only thing we’re certain of is that it will fool us again.

Health care workers around the world are getting ill, despite protective efforts.

How about unprecedented?

I considered myself a pretty learned person. I enjoy reading all types of history. My dad was a teacher for nearly 40 years. My sisters are educators. Mom was a nurse and supervisor at Galion Community Hospital for decades.

I’ve learned a lot during dinner conversations.

But the more I learn about COVID-19, the more of a head-scratcher it becomes.

The Great Plague decimated Europe in the 1300s. It’s estimated it killed 75 to 200 million people.

The great flu pandemic of 1918 infected more than 500 million around the world and killed between 20 and 50 million.

Will COVID-19 become as bad as that?

I pray it doesn’t. But it is trying.

Never have American life been this restricted.

Federal and state governments are flexing their muscles in an effort to head off COVID-19 as it moves effortlessly around the world. Italy has pretty much quarantined an entire nation. Canada is turning visitors away form its borders. The United States has barred travel to and from a couple dozen nations.

In Ohio, the OHSAA state tournaments have been cancelled. Schools have been closed and restaurants and bars can no longer provide sit-down service. Gyms and movie theaters and other places we go to escape life for a couple of hours have been forced to close.

President Trump on Monday afternoon urged us not to congregate in groups of 10 or larger, because COVID-19 spreads so easily.

Will those government edicts pay off?

I have no idea. Only time will tell.

But doing nothing is a worse idea.

Tuesday was supposed to be primary election day in Ohio.

In-person voting was on. Then we thought it was off. Then a judge vetoed a plan to postpone in-person voting until June 2. Finally, late Monday, Dr. Amy Acton, executive director of the Ohio Department of health, citing a health emergency, closed Ohio polls. No one is voting today in the Buckeye State

That is unprecedented.

Is depressing at fitting description?

I’ve read books and watched movies and chatted with folks who lived during the Great Depression. I don’t want to experience a time like that. That possibility is truly depressing.

Americans — myself included — are pretty spoiled.

I like it that way.

And we’re pretty well insulated from the hardships many around the world deal with daily.

Will Americans be forced to stand in line for bread and fruits and cheese and other things to feed their families?

Perhaps it’s too early to neatly and succinctly sum up this time of our lives.

Each day something new happens.

We try to adjust to one or two changes. And within 24 hours, another restriction is placed upon is.

It takes time to adjust to new reports and new cancellations and new government edicts. But before we have time.

Every hour of each day we learn something new about COVID-19.

There has been very little good news about this coronavirus.

That fact is truly depressing.

I do know this. We will survive. And in some ways we’ll be better than before.

Still, people are going to die. Businesses will close. Jobs will be lost. Families will be decimated.

But there are things we can do to mitigate these hardships.

Be kind. Be patient. Be Godly. Be helpful.

Mostly, just be good neighbors. Be generous with what you have, and be mindful of what others don’t have.

That’s how we’ll get through this, by helping one another.

In the end, I guess I’m hopeful.

Email Russ Kent at

Email Russ Kent at