Column: Merrimack Valley shows resilience in the face of COVID-19

State Rep. Tram Nguyen, D-Andover 

Recently we received encouraging news that Gov. Charlie Baker has established a Reopening Advisory Board chartered to develop a strategy to reopen Massachusetts safely.

The board, comprised of public health officials and municipal and business leaders with various insights and experience, is to present its plan by May 18.

While this is a promising update, we must each maintain the personal discipline required to adhere to wearing masks and social distancing and to be ready for the potentially expanded protocols required for a safe reopening.

It is important to remember that we still have a long way to go to reach the point where we can safely reestablish our former daily routines.

COVID-19 science and data are evolving in real time – each day we become better equipped to contain and manage the virus. And it is this science and data from the experts that must drive the decision-making process.

As I write this, across the United States, over 1 million people have tested positive, nearly 60,000 have died, and more than 120,000 have recovered.

Many states are already reopening, and the experiences in these locations should also influence Massachusetts’ decision-making.

The people of Massachusetts and the Merrimack Valley have shown tremendous resilience and strength in following the protocols that have kept so many healthy.

Yet, nearly 60,000 of our fellow residents have tested positive for the virus, and we have lost more than 3,000 souls. 

The heartache for those who have lost loved ones must be an even greater source of sorrow for them without the comfort of family and friends to share in the traditional ceremonies. I hope that one day soon we can acknowledge this loss with a statewide remembrance event.

The kindness freely given to family, friends and neighbors is comforting and should be a source of pride for all of us. Here in the Merrimack Valley, encouraging words chalked on driveways and sidewalks, signs thanking first responders, young people delivering groceries, buying pizza for Lawrence General Hospital’s COVID-19 health-care workers and raising money for those in need, are occurring every day.

People making hundreds of face masks, others making face shields with their 3D printers, Meals on Wheels continuing to serve our seniors, and the local YMCA distributing more than 10,500 grab-and-go meals are evidence of the spirit and compassion of the Merrimack Valley.

Through your determination, we have gotten this far. I know we can continue to step up and help each other until happier times return. 

Until then, thank you for all you are doing. Please continue to stay safe.

Rep. Tram Nguyen, D-Andover, represents the 18th Essex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Her district includes parts of Boxford, North Andover, Andover and Tewksbury.

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