By: Tiffany Bement, Staff Writer

Hughesville, MD – We wanted to know how our Southern Maryland residents felt about what we are all experiencing together during this crisis.

We wanted to sit around a cafe table with some coffee and talk to our fellow residents, but with Social Distancing being the main theme right now, we decided to randomly reach out to members in our community via social media; from all different walks of life, different opinions, and with different perspectives.

It was quite interesting getting all the different answers to the same set of questions. Although we received many great answers, here is what some of our fellow community members had to say.

We asked about people’s first thoughts on the COVID-19 Virus when they first heard of its existence.

My first thoughts were this has been here for quite some time as my entire family was so sick for 5 weeks and physicians could not figure out why or what it was,” said Charles Country Resident, Tiffani Johnson.

I thought to myself, this is going to be bad”, said Kathy Browne, resident of St. Mary’s County.

Chris Hume of Charles county stated:

“I thought it was just another Chinese bird flu and it never even crossed my mind that it would come here.”

And for Charles County resident Frank Cook, his first thoughts went to how he could he protect his family, while wife Mandy felt fear explaining that she had heard about what had happened in China and Italy. Mrs. Cook finished by saying:

“You hear about this stuff, but you never think it will happen where you are”

We the asked for thoughts on the school shutdowns, as we too, here at The Southern Maryland Chronicle, are on the COVID-19 show, “Parent Edition” season 1, too!

I was happy for the children’s safety but sad for my senior,” said Browne.

“I was surprised at first. Thought it would be just a couple of weeks, but now it’s just unknown” says Leighann Hopwood (Charles County)

Hume says “with an 8 and 9-year old, we struggle to find childcare now that they’re not in school. Both my wife and I are considered essential, so we still have to work and the fear of having to leave them home alone is very real”

Hume isn’t alone in feeling that way. This concern was mentioned by most of the essential working parents questioned. The most mentioned fear amongst all essential workers or spouses of essential workers was, as Mr. Cook said:

“My fear is bringing the virus home to my family”

Maybe that is the thing every one of us fears the most. Not a fear for ourselves but the fear of it harming those we love. It’s our basic human instinct.

We moved on to inquire whether or not those interviewed felt if their local officials and media outlets have been keeping them well informed with all pertinent facts and information, and Browne replied:

“Yes and no. Yes because we hear about cases but locally we aren’t hearing about where these people infected have gone and if we should get tested if we had been to those places.”

“They have done big things monetarily but, they keep throwing little nuggets of information out there that just leave us here assuming and guessing”

While Johnson discerns that there are hidden political agendas amongst a crisis that “only improves the lives of these officials and hurting Americans”

Johnson also urged that we follow all precautions, listening to officials, and following what you’re being told to do. This was unanimous across the board.

One of the most important questions we felt we could ask was what everyone has learned from this universal journey so far. We knew it would be interesting none the less, but what it did was, reveal the heart and true nature of our Southern Maryland Community and the people who live in it.

Hume found the humor in this all by saying

“I’ve learned how poor our hygiene is. Globally” and went onto say “ we have a strong community. We will make it work”

“I have learned that our local businesses need us as much as we need them. We should pay attention to those that continued to be there for us when they didn’t have too. Thanks to the ones that strive to keep us and their employees safe because they’re not all about the money. They love us as we love them” Said, Brown.

“We learned how much we care about our neighbors and even those that aren’t. It’s scary not knowing what is going to happen but we will get through this together” said Mr. and Mrs. Cook.

The two that stood out the most came from Johnson who said,” I’ve learned what a strong family I have. What community means to most. I’ve learned the type of leaders among me and learned more about myself as a wife, mother, friend, and leader. I’ve learned that patience and understanding are important and that we are all scared. We just show it in a different way”

And from the founder of social media page “Charles County Matters” Deron Tross who said:

“I work from home and I’ve been home following what they are telling me is best, which has given me lots of time to reflect on myself, others, the community. I’ve learned that putting aside differences for the greater good, is far more important than holding on to petty resentment. Especially during times like these. We need more unity and less division. I’ve even personally reached to make amends with a few”.

We could all take a lesson from the lessons of others. Seems that, although we all seem to vary in how we feel about the virus, we all have the same core fears, concerns, questions, confusion. The unknown is a scary thing and the one thing we all are is scared. We aren’t really all that different, no matter where you’re from.

Maybe be a little kinder to those you don’t agree with. They may only be saying what they say, to help themselves, not be so scared. Acknowledge more of the positive comments amongst community forums, and acknowledge less of the ones that aren’t.

Be the change you want to see. Your kindness can be what eases the fears of your neighbors. Your kindness can also be what eases the fears of strangers.

Have patience with each other. Some don’t process things as quickly as others. We all move at our own pace. It’s ok to feel how you feel and it’s ok for others to feel the way they feel too. It’s all about how we individually process the insanity and being understanding knowing that we are all individuals, and the individuality within our community is what makes it great.

Support each other and don’t judge one another based on a comment you don’t agree with. We need more of that. We need it to get through this a better and stronger community.

Because we will you know, get through this. As long as we do it together. It’s what Southern Maryland is all about. Let’s show the world what makes us who we are. Show each other the love we feel for our community through the words we say and the actions we take. Be Southern Maryland.