Greater Shepparton is facing one of its most significant challenges ever. The continued news of positive COVID cases has been coming in on our screens and feeds since Friday morning. The rising numbers and the fact that large schools are Tier 1 exposure sites means that many families and businesses are impacted by stay at home orders.
There are many reasons to believe we can get through this and avoid a catastrophic outbreak. One is Goulburn Valley Health’s track record of testing and contact tracing. Their performance since the pandemic started has been outstanding. Another is the community – people really care about each other here. Country people are resilient, practical, and altruistic. There is less chance of the type of display we saw in Melbourne on Saturday, where a group of idiots thought the best way to end lockdown was to march through the CBD without masks and assault police officers.
Contact tracing should be easier as we are more networked in this region. The Shepparton News has been doing a great job with its free rolling coverage of the situation, and as more exposure sites and instructions are listed people are coming forward for testing in an ordered way. The News reporting has been translated into a number of languages and distributed through our different communities.
Though the Delta variant is more infectious, it has hit us at a time when a significant proportion of our older population has been vaccinated. This proportion is rising all the time, and if those vaccinated people do contract COVID, they should avoid life-threatening illness. The more people that get vaccinated, the less chance we have of sharing the experiences of Italy and New York last year.
But we are in for some tough times ahead, and we need to look after each other.
One of the issues that makes a pandemic such a challenge is that we are limited in ways we can help. If it was a flood, we would be filling sandbags together in great numbers. If it was fires, we would be helping people evacuate. In this situation, the best thing most of us can do is stay home. But there is a way that people can offer support. Greater Shepparton Lighthouse is leading a collaboration of community organisations in setting up an initiative called GV Cares. We need to get the word out about this.
People can go to the GV Cares Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org to privately request food or services. A team of volunteers will then do their best to safely address the requests that come in. This is critical because the supermarket delivery services are being overwhelmed. Please ensure that everyone in your networks is aware of this service – no-one can be allowed to go without because they are locked down.