I’d be lying if I said that the last few months have not been overly heavy, mentally. But goodness, if you can focus on the good, there is so much out there to see.

That’s why we sought out insight from community leaders to share their thoughts on why this community is “Stronger Together.”

I have heard over and over again from the many, many people we talk to as we report the news of this area, that the trouble with the pandemic are the unknowns. Businesses and organizations are not sure how to navigate the future in a world turned upside down by a virus. The goal was always, “How do we bring in more people to our business, our organization, our community, our lives?” But now we are asked to limit people in all forms except at a distance.

So what are the knowns?

  • Wadena County was one of the last five counties in the state to get a positive COVID-19 case, and to date, thankfully, has no deaths associated with the virus. I know the positive cases are growing and one is too many. But it’s a number that is far lower than I felt we would be at. I think that number has a lot to do with people working together to slow this train down.

  • The immediate response to a pandemic seen in our area included businesses running out of toilet paper. People saw that this could get ugly, and for many, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and canned goods were paramount products. Thankfully, at least I hope, that phase has passed. I know that, working together, area businesses increased inventory to meet the demand. I also know everyone on my Christmas list is getting a roll of TP.

  • The severe cases in our area have never been too many for our area hospitals to handle. I know they worked together to be prepared.

  • We heard we needed to be prepared and take precautions. Fortunately, this community is armed with sewing machines and people who know how to use them. Reports came flying in about this business person or that family member cranking out cloth masks left and right. And many, out of the goodness of their hearts, just gave them away. Now most places you go, there are options for free or inexpensive disposable masks. For the short amount of time I actually have to wear a mask, I know it is of no significant inconvenience when compared to the expected outcome. Due to the abundance of masks available, I know I have no excuse not to have one.

  • When the schools had to close and students were learning at home, I know people who jumped at the chance to donate supplies to make learning more productive.

  • When we couldn’t have birthday or retirement parties, the community I know put on the coolest drive-by celebrations I’ve ever seen.

  • When graduation as we knew it was kyboshed, I saw students honored in ways we’d never even thought of before. Heck, I know it was the greatest graduation ceremony I’ve ever seen.

  • I know people got out and enjoyed the outdoors more. I wasn’t the only one walking my dog for once.

  • I know people expressed love through their windows, driveways, social media and more in new ways because of this pandemic.

  • I know that those who put their hope in God, know that he is in control of the situation and there is nothing to fear.

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I know, I’m not talking about a lot of the nasty stuff and hardships that have arisen from this pandemic. That’s because I feel we’re at a point where we need to be looking forward.

We made it through the beginning of this together, and I know we will come out of this stronger if we are the community that strives to care for and help each other through to the end of these heavy times.

I hope you find encouragement in the words of the people who took the time to share their thoughts here.

#StrongerTogether #WadenaStrong

Michael Johnson is the editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal and has called this area home nearly his whole life.