Deer Isle CARES

Dear Editor:

The Deer Isle town office continues to work for a healthy community. Six months ago, our focus was on fostering an environment in which healthy choices are the easy choices. Long-term investments in safe places to walk, access to healthy foods, litter-free roadsides, safe road crossings, public parks and recreation, proper sanitation, natural coastlines, clean air and water were built into a vision of a safe and sustainable island community.

The coronavirus arrived about six months ago, creating another challenge to make the healthy choice the easy choice. We have had to reorganize our lives to limit the spread of this highly contagious, debilitating and sometimes fatal illness. We do this to protect our seniors in particular. This is no small matter in Deer Isle, where more than one in three people are over 65.

The rest of us are also at risk, as the virus has required hospitalization for people of all ages. In the last month, Deer Isle partnered with the Healthy Island Project, successfully attracting more than $30,000 in Maine CARES funding to promote the steps we need to take to contain the spread of COVID-19. Rene Colson Hudson, director of the Healthy Island Project, is leading the ground game, reaching out to business in Deer Isle, delivering supplies of masks, hand sanitizers and more advanced personal protective equipment as needed. We are also installing hand sanitizer stations, distance markers, posters, banners and other equipment in public spaces. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for us to contain the virus until a vaccine is available, and very probably for months following. One of our big investments will be a roadside electronic information sign located at the town office. The town has stumbled along with an odd array of cardboard and hand-painted signs, often difficult to see and ineffective. The new sign will help us to promote COVID awareness along with many other municipal events.

This is part of a larger communications strategy that includes the press, our website, banners and social media. As we enter the cooler autumn months, there is every reason to be concerned that along with the annual spike in influenza we will experience a spike in COVID-19. The summer has been kind to us with warm, dry weather, ample ventilation and outdoor activities. The right choice was easy, but it is about to get harder. Moving indoors will limit social distancing and require more masking and cleaning. Some of us have grown accustomed to having a mask dangling from one ear, making it much easier to pop in on as needed. It looks goofy, but it works.

Please contact us with your ideas to help contain the coronavirus and make Deer Isle a healthy, sustainable community. We rely on hearing from you to make this campaign a success.

Jim Fisher

Deer Isle Town Manager

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