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OPINION

Kansas Leadership Center, communities step up

By The Editorial Advisory Board
Virtual community meeting

Kudos to the Kansas Leadership Center, which during a time when nothing seems to be going quite right, has stepped up to show what can be accomplished in fighting COVID-19 and building community connections.

Its “Kansas Beats the Virus” initiative has been created in partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Throughout December, the center has held some 1,000 virtual community meetings to educate people about the virus and how to slow its spread.

This approach, frankly, was the right one from the start, because combatting a pandemic requires a community based mindset.

“The reality is that we all have competing values when it comes to wearing a mask, keeping our distance and washing our hands as often as we need to limit the spread of the virus. There is no single solution that will stop the virus,” said Ed O’Malley, president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center. “But if these action plan experiments get more people to follow these basic steps, we’ll have fewer cases, our schools and businesses can stay open and we will help alleviate the strain on our health care system.”

And there you have it. Many of us simply don’t like mandates from anyone about our behavior. But when those moves have such a clear overall benefit — saving lives and keeping the economy open, for example — we should all work together to observe them. It might take sitting and listening to others’ stories and admonitions to bring that message home.

We’re really into a new stage in battling the pandemic, one that would have been difficult to imagine back in March. That is, we know that vaccines are on the way. They’re actually being distributed to health care workers across the state. We know that better treatments have arrived in hospitals, and we know that doctors understand the virus better.

But none of that is actually changing our day-to-day reality, at least not yet.

Depending on availability of vaccines, those crucial preventatives might not be widely available until the late spring or summer. So while spread may be reduced during the opening of 2021, public health measures will still be our best defense against COVID-19 for months to come.

We have to hang on, and we have to work together. Thanks to the Leadership Center’s efforts throughout December, many of us have learned important ways to do just that.