We certainly appreciate our “frontline” heroes during this pandemic. We’ve seen television commercials, read articles in national newspapers and watched videos online of people banging pans each night in New York to say “thank you” to our nurses, doctors and “essential” employees who have no choice but to deal face-to-face with the coronavirus. We’ve heard of those in the medical profession who can’t be with their families, for fear that they may spread the illness.

It’s been a long time since my May column has been about something other than commencement. Instead, what I share with you today is our plan, or as much of a plan as we are able to define in the fluid situation created by the coronavirus.

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It wasn’t long ago that America conscripted its military. For a time, the country rationed gasoline, meat and other “essential” foods and commodities. There was a time when the Civil Defense program required people to practice taking shelter, required children to hide under their desks at school and prompted communities to install loud sirens tested at noon each day.

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Despite a $1 billion “rainy day” fund at the start of the current fiscal year, state government is expected to have a deficit when the dust settles and Arizona gets back to business as usual after the pandemic.

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Cochise College leaders, faculty and staff have spent the last three or four weeks operating in a fashion none of us would ever have predicted. Among all of the noise, one fact has been impossible to ignore. Community colleges are, literally, good for your health and sometimes deemed essential! Some of the most critical jobs needed at a time of crisis are those filled by individuals trained at your local community college. How would those positions be filled if the colleges were closed? Thanks to various cooperative efforts, we don’t need to worry about that.

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For more than a century, we’ve never experienced anything comparable to the current pandemic. Historians tell us the Spanish Flu of 1918 caused similar behavior, frightening people into quarantine and creating a public panic.