Now is the time to put all our resources towards the strongest local recovery possible. As Kent Countians hunker down to wait out this wave of COVID-19, there is a lot of thinking, fretting, dreaming, and self assessment underway.

We are all in some way rethinking our pre-COVID-19 playbook and wondering what the next month, year and decade will bring. As isolated as we are with social distancing, we find ourselves more connected than we could ever have imagined just weeks ago.

Throughout our lives, we are constantly reassessing our lives – in little ways, sometimes unknowingly. But with COVID-19 in the here and now, it is happening more unwittingly. It is certainly not natural for the entire world to undertake this process simultaneously.

If you have read Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (Putnam, 1998), this is a good time to re-read it.  If you have not read it, I won’t spoil the experience other than to say this short wake-up call has been a valuable guide for me when tackling re-assessment.

Individuals, businesses and nonprofits must be proactive. Surviving this pandemic and recovering successfully will depend on everyone both contributing and receiving their share. For instance, If you or your business wants to help with food supply, the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice is coordinating collecting donations and distributing food for children and seniors in need at this time. For more details, contact Arlene Lee by email or Facebook.

Sumner Hall is serving as the sponsoring non-profit for this effort and people can donate here or by mailing a check payable to “Sumner Hall” with the memo “SACRJ Food Effort” to 206 South Queen St., Chestertown, MD 21620.

Federal and state governments are making unprecedented resources available. Since Kent County has been officially declared a “disaster area,” The Kent Pilot urges individuals, businesses and nonprofits to learn about low-interest economic emergency loans and grants through the Small Business Administration and the State of Maryland.

Start the application process today. It is important to understand the documents you need to upload or submit. The better prepared you are, the less time the submission process will take. Don’t wait. Congress and the Maryland Legislature have approved emergency financial resources, but the demand will be great, resources limited, and requests will be processed on a “claims-made basis.”

In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has changed how we relate, communicate, govern, educate, travel, and trade. Even by the best estimates, the economic effect will be severe – hopefully only in the short term. Once a safe new “normal” is established, jobs and the economy will be the focus. The business community must communicate with each other and our government leaders to ensure a strong recovery.

Congress has cleared the way for banks to provide organized relief to customers. Local banks are already contacting customers offering mitigation efforts. For commercial real estate customers, there is an unwritten expectation that with relief comes the responsibility to share the benefit with tenants.

As Peoples Bank president Ralph Dowling noted Friday, “We are going to be proactive. Once we receive regulatory clarity, we will reach out to our customers on loan modification options including interest only and payment deferrals.”

Tight budgets at home and businesses mean tough times for governments; therefore, we must temper our expectations, climb out of the box and innovate. We must not let perfect be the enemy of good. While COVID-19 was spreading through Maryland, the Democratic legislative leadership delayed departure to pass the Kirwan Commission Education Funding Plan. As it was being passed, it became obsolete. Governor Hogan should veto the Kirwan Plan. He will need a post-COVID-19 Education Plan come next September.

As they struggle to determine their contribution in the post-COVID-19 landscape, this is an opportunity for the Kent County School System, Chesapeake College, Washington College and local private secondary schools to become the incubator for a new standard in hyper-local and online education.

The Kent County Commissioners should declare “Mission Accomplished” at the Conowingo Dam, congratulate their fellow Clean Chesapeake Coalition counties on a job well done, and end this appropriation. Governor Hogan has listened and delivered. We must now look homeward.

Government budget managers will rethink the meaning of “normal.” Self-created fiefdoms should be declared over. Open communications and transparency should be mandatory. Let’s use this as an opportunity for the County and Board of Education to cooperate to maximize innovation and cost savings and to leverage state and federal aid. Include the municipalities in this planning.

The County and municipalities need to cooperate to ensure continuity of public safety and other services, and support an intact public workforce. Revenue sharing will certainly become a discussion. Let it be reasonable and open-minded.

Over at Studio 201, The Kent Pilot is work keeping you informed with news on local events daily. If you have news tips, send them to dan@kentpilot.org.

This has not been the most opportune time to start a new organization, so if you want to contribute or sponsor, contact me at steve@kentpilot.org and look for our “donate” button soon.

In closing, practice social distancing and be safe.