As the coronavirus situation continues to develop, and many people choose to not be in public as much, and those who do are keeping at least 6 feet apart, we will need new means of social interaction and ways of supporting one another more than ever.

There are ways to stay connected without compromising your health or the health of others. Now is the time to get creative and create new habits.

During this time we need to be aware of our neighbors and friends who may be especially vulnerable to isolation. These may be people who are at risk, or who simply have lost their regular points of social contact. Reach out by phone or video chat.

This situation is also especially hard on our small businesses. We are in regular communication with county, state, and federal officials and are closely monitoring State and Federal agencies for economic relief that may be offered. We will proactively update all information and protocols and actively pursue every option that will benefit our community.

Last week it was announced that both small businesses and non-profit organizations can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of up to $25,000 through the SBA without collateral for operational expenses. Loans of over $25,000 are also available. Thank you to our local Chamber, EDA staff and elected officials who advocated for this important provision for our business community!

We will continue to coordinate with the Northfield Chamber and will work together to distribute information to the business community, as it becomes available, as well as to understand short- and longer-term impacts that we cannot yet predict.

Our local businesses need your support now. Many of our great local restaurants and retailers are now providing online ordering and curbside service. I encourage you to order take out or purchase an activity or gift for someone who could use a little encouragement.

Finally, I’m asking you to keep all of our community members in your thoughts and prayers. For those of you who are not feeling well please know my heart is with you. This past week we had the first death in Minnesota in Ramsey County due to the virus. I offer my deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones to this illness across our state, nation and world. We must do our part to follow state and federal recommendations to slow the spread and protect the lives of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Please remember to practice physical distancing, eliminate nonessential travel, cover your cough, wash your hands for 20 seconds, care for mild symptoms at home and call your health care provider if you think you need care.

Our public health officials are working tirelessly with the medical industry to help provide needed medical attention. Thank you to our health care workers for your critical service as you care for the sick!

Together, we will make it through this time and become a better, stronger, more resilient community.

Rhonda Pownell is the mayor of Northfield.

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