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Support locally owned shops during pandemic
Andrew Cripps
Andrew Cripps

By Andrew Cripps

We are all being flooded with news about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The story last week that an Effingham County resident tested positive has elevated concerns about the virus spreading through our community. To filter through the information clutter, the chamber of commerce set up a Coronavirus Resources page on our website ( with vital information for businesses, such as a link to the SBA’s Disaster Loan Assistance program. The information is updated daily.

Small businesses and their employees are hardest hit by this situation, particularly in retail and dining. I want to encourage those who are able to support locally owned shops and restaurants by buying gift cards for use after the pandemic. Buy some now as Christmas gifts. Or go ahead and order take-out from a local restaurant where you normally dine-in. You just may help a business survive or keep a worker from unemployment.

At the chamber of commerce, we’re looking for more ways to help businesses weather this difficult time. We’re brainstorming ideas with our colleagues at chambers in other counties, and we’re seeking ideas from you. On our Coronavirus Resources page you can share how Coronavirus concerns are affecting you and your family, and how you are coping or helping others.

School, government and business closings add a surreal element to our daily lives. And we are all wondering what we can do to keep ourselves and those close to us safe. The closings and the social distancing precautions, the hand sanitizing and disinfecting are all necessary to keep the virus from spreading out of control and overwhelming our health systems. These precautions need to be foremost on our minds, but fear and anxiety can also be counterproductive.

The American Psychological Association (APA) advises us to keep things in perspective. Coronavirus may seem like The Great Plague. The fact is that recent figures show mortality from Covid-19 worldwide is 3.7 percent of infected patients, and just 1.7 percent in the U.S. and Canada. That’s higher than the common flu, but just a third that of SARS (remember SARS?)

The APA also recommends staying connected, with loved ones and your community. Social distancing should not mean social isolation. We all need to know we are not alone in this.

Finally, you can use social distancing to your advantage. Our county offers a wealth of calming, life-affirming natural beauty that you can take advantage of if you’re stressed. Put away the phone and go to a park, a riverside boat ramp, or just a quiet place. Take a walk, jog, stretch or just sit and relax. We will get through this.

Andrew Cripps is the CEO of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce.