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Friday Finishers

FRIDAY FINISHERS: Ease off the gas, pump the brakes during the COVID-19 crisis

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In just a little over two weeks American’s lives have been upended with the spread of the coronavirus. The sports world cratered with rapid cancellations — all the way from the WIAA State Basketball tournament to the pros and the vacating of March Madness.

School closures sent parents hunting for childcare alternatives; bars and restaurants were ordered closed — except for takeout food, and the border with Canada was closed except for trade. It’s been bizarre and unsettling — especially for the thousands of workers who lost their jobs. In many ways it’s reminiscent of driving in the first major snowfall of winter when suddenly your car goes into a slide and everything goes into slow motion when you don’t know if you’re going to regain traction, slip into the ditch or take out a utility pole.

We don’t yet know what the impact of COVID-19 will be — how long it will last, how far it will spread and how many deaths it might cause. We’re all hoping the impact will be minimal and we’re doing our best to slow the virus spread by hunkering down at home and waiting the storm out. We’ll ease off the gas, pump the brakes on our fast-paced lives, do what we can to help neighbors and others in need and hope we get through this — together.

Even as our schools shut down, children across the area still need to be fed. Salutes to Racine Unified for stepping up with free grab-and-go meals for youngsters at nine area schools from 9-10 a.m. Monday-Thursday. Siena Catholic Schools quickly joined the effort, offering pickup meals five days a week, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at John Paul II Academy and from 11 a.m. to noon at St. Catherine’s High School. Other meal pickups were set up at the George Bray Family YMCA, two Racine COP houses and at a Burlington business. Good job everyone.

Presidential primaries were pushed back in several states by fears that voters congregating at the polls would spread COVID-19, but Wisconsin and the Racine area have a Supreme Court race, multiple local races and referendums on the ballot and chose to stay with its April 7 date. Salutes to the area clerks who quickly asked voters to vote absentee ballot to cut down on any lines at the polls and Caledonia for extending the in-person absentee voting by a week to lessen the election-day traffic.

When we see dark clouds like coronavirus looming, we’re hard-pressed to find any silver linings to cling to. But when taverns across the state were shuttered at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, we couldn’t help but wonder if it would result in a big dip in drunken driving deaths and injuries on our state roadways. It will probably be difficult to assess since it comes at the same time as a big drop in travel and non-essential driving, but perhaps this glass will be half-full.

In that category, we would normally also be cheering E-commerce giant Amazon’s announcement this week that it would be hiring 700 people in Kenosha to handle a surge in online orders — but we know that’s coming because brick and mortar stores have been forced to close.

With all the panic and mayhem of the past couple of weeks we were all busy restructuring our lives and routines. Still, we couldn’t help but notice that once again little purple crocuses were beginning to push their way through the ground and still-not-yellow daffodils were quickly following suit. Signs of spring — a season of hope — we hope.

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