Amid the chaos and panic buying of the coronavirus pandemic, there are the odd gleams of gold, individuals and groups that stand out by showing what Greene and Columbia counties are really made of.

We’re talking about the Cooper’s Daughter Distillery switching its production from liquors to desperately needed hand sanitizer. We’re talking about our area schools stepping up to feed hungry students. We’re talking about the hundreds, thousands of anonymous contributors making important donations to keep our first responders healthy and to working parents who need child care.

We’re also talking about the retired health care workers to whom Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a plea Monday to join the fight against the coronavirus. Cuomo wants to boost the number of health care workers available to treat coronavirus patients. He sent letters last Friday to all registered health workers in the state asking them to volunteer in an emergency medical corps.

This is war, the governor said last week, against an enemy the likes of which New York state has never faced.

“I received an email asking me to submit paperwork and a questionnaire,” Catskill Elementary School Nurse Diane Ashley said Monday. The questionnaire asked respondents to reply within 36 hours with their work history, specialty and availability.

Ashley said she hadn’t heard back yet and was unsure if she would be called to work downstate at the field hospitals being constructed in Westchester, Long Island and Manhattan. Naturally, she expressed concern over the working conditions.

“You hear about all these mask shortages, N95 shortages. I don’t know what I’m walking into. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable,” she said Monday.

It’s certain that Ashley will be joined by tens of thousands of others with the same thoughts in mind. They will try to balance their desire to remain healthy with their inherent sense of duty. Cuomo announced Monday that more than 30,000 retired medical personnel have already responded.

Local health care workers have answered the call. We will support them no matter what they choose to do.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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