Small Town Life: Pulling Together During The Pandemic
PRT Editorial by Lynn Davison (April 2020 Print Edition)

Be thankful you live in a small rural town. While, it is very likely the coronavirus will get here too, Patagonia, Sonoita, and Elgin are more able than our urban brothers and sisters to manage the spread and support each other through these scary times.  Without a doubt, everyone, absolutely everyone, must take the pandemic very seriously and scrupulously follow the guidance from trusted federal, state, and county public health sources. Our individual behavior is the most powerful deterrent to spread of the virus. That said, our communities have a lot of advantages going into this crisis and we can, and are, already building on them.

Because we are small and people are more horizontally connected to each other, information spreads quickly. There are probably no more than two degrees of separation between all of us…we may not know you, but we do know someone who knows you. Our cultural values promote multigenerational family connection and support. All this matters now because the social isolation and the serious health and financial impacts of the pandemic require us to check in with each other. Call your friends and neighbors, especially if they are medically high risk or economically vulnerable. Figure out how you can get them what they may need without compromising your own health. 

In small towns, most business owners are friends and family. Retail business are among those being particularly hard hit by the necessary health and safety measures taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Like other sectors, our business community is finding safe and creative ways to continue delivering goods and services. For example, in Patagonia, the the Wagon Wheel is open for pick up. Red Mountain is open and continuing to receive stock. Sonoita Mercantile is open for pick up but their bathrooms are closed and the Sonoita Inn remains open. Financial support for small businesses will come from the federal government eventually. In the meantime, take advantage of local goods that are made available safely.  

Patagonia is blessed with a relatively large number of effective nonprofit organizations. They are all stepping up in the current crisis by modeling good public health practices, and, those who offer essential services, are finding safe ways to continue. The Senior Center has suspended congregate meals but is offering bag lunches M-F. The Patagonia Youth Enrichment Center has closed the Center, but the Coleman family is still cooking meals in their commercial kitchen for the kids to take home. The Food Bank in Patagonia remains open Monday mornings outside the Senior Center and, in Sonoita, there is still Produce on Wheels every third Saturday of the month at the Harvest Christian Church. South 32 has donated $50,000 to the Southern Arizona Community Foundation designated for Santa Cruz County non-profits on the front line of the crisis.  

Our volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Patagonia has regularly updated posts on confirmed cases of covid-19. They also have great information on debunking the myths associated with the virus. Also, in Patagonia, the Town Marshall, Fire Chief, Dr. Anderson at the Mariposa Community Health Center, and the Town Manger have implemented a coordinated approach to sharing the latest health and safety information from county, state, and federal sources. Patagonia and Sonoita are blessed with great Fire Departments who together provide excellent emergency response capability.  

Our natural environment in the Sky Islands is a tonic to soothe the fear and anxiety of the pandemic. Go outside and appreciate the beauty of the migrating birds, the greening of the cottonwoods, the lovely warm spring days, the budding wildflowers, the glow of Red Mountain at sunset. Walk or ride in the hills, appreciate the beautiful landscape and the incredible diversity of plants and animals who share their home with us.

With all these advantages, should we be doing more? Absolutely. The federal government will hopefully provide critically needed public health information, materials and equipment, and financial support to the U.S. healthcare system. Regarding the economic crisis, the government will provide financial aid to individuals, families, and businesses impacted by the pandemic. Unfortunately, like everything in government, that help will take some time. 

In the meantime, the PRT is committed to providing regularly updated, locally focused information on the coronavirus pandemic. The robust response to our recent online survey suggests that our readers really appreciate the PRT’s daily coverage. For easy access to these updates, you can add this link to your bookmarks: www.patagoniaregionaltimes.org/coronavirus2020. 

Our board is also discussing what else the PRT might do to help during this crisis that has upended so many lives. We would like to organize a community discussion to identify the best ways to provide help for those in need of services or goods and invite you to join that conversation. If you would like to become involved, please contact us at prteditor@gmail.com and we will set up an online discussion. It’s what we do in small towns, take care of each other.