“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness….” This is not just the first line of the novel, Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it is a good description of our current times.
The “worst” of times is easily understood. Anytime the word “pandemic” is used in everyday conversation, it is a concern. Disbelief remains the most common reaction to what we have all been going through. The current pandemic is a generational changing event that we won’t forget but from which we will hopefully learn a great deal and be better and more prepared in the future because of it.
The “best” of times can also be seen, if you choose to look. Families are spending more time together. We are concerned for each other. We are helping each other. We are learning to appreciate the little things, and even more importantly, we are appreciating people who we often overlook during other “normal” times.
We now see how critically we depend on our health care workers. They are devoted, brave and inspirational people. I expect we will have a new appreciation for them if we don’t already. In my role as the chief federal law enforcement officer for the Northern District of West Virginia, I get the privilege of working with first responders, particularly law enforcement. Those individuals are still out there every day, every hour, and every minute. Our heroes are not on television shows or sporting events. Our heroes are in our communities protecting us, feeding and teaching our kids, stocking our grocery shelves, and assuring our basic services remain intact.
I live in Berkeley County, which is one of the more heavily affected counties in our state. Yet, on my few trips to my grocery store, there was no panic. People were staying apart. There was genuine concern and kindness being exhibited. I was encouraged by what I saw.
I am blessed to work with amazing professionals. There will still be prosecutions, arrests, and court proceedings, albeit under different conditions. We are on the lookout for those trying to take advantage of the public through fraud. We are seeing evidence of fraud in West Virginia and we have joined forces with our state and federal colleagues to find it, stop it, and prosecute it. Crisis always attracts those who prey on the anxiety and fear of others. But we need your help. The public needs to report individuals trying to price gouge, those promising early government checks or the “magical” cure for the virus to law enforcement.
If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at [email protected]
I am confident that we will come through this crisis stronger than we were, more appreciative than we were, and closer than we were. We live in the greatest of countries and our history has demonstrated time and again that we will rise to the occasion and be better for it.