Finding productive things to do in isolation – Sevier County’s Utah State University Extension open remotely

Jody Gale

The global response to the pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus and the associated human COVID-19 disease it causes, is being compared to fighting a world war. The pandemic of 2020 has sent a shockwave around the world that has disrupted every aspect of our lives in ways that we could not have imagined a few months ago. The spread of this very contagious and dangerous virus is causing uncertainty, fear and some panic. 

We joke a lot about it, but who would have thought there would be a run on toilet paper. A few grocery store shelves are bare due to the temporary surge in demand for some sanitizing, health care and food products. These products are usually readily available through normal just-in-time inventory control business practices. Businesses reduce costs by keeping enough products in the supply chain while reducing expensive warehousing of inventory. 

Please be assured there is no need for panic during this time of heightened preparation. There is still abundant food supplies in America’s farms, barns, storage facilities and freezers. It’s just going to take a little time for the food supply chain system to catch up to the temporary surge in demand. When the surge is over and supplies are all caught up there will likely be some great sales. 

Who would have thought schools, churches and universities would be closed and that our favorite restaurants can only provide takeout? It’s almost unimaginable that most public and private events, including ballgames and even the Olympics, have all been canceled or postponed. Wall Street and other global market centers have reacted with unprecedented volatility, business fortunes have changed almost overnight and our economy has gone from a bull market to a recession in just a few weeks. 

It’s especially amazingly that even the partisan politics of our long gridlocked national government have temporarily been set aside by both parties and, almost unanimously, passed a desperately needed emergency economic stimulus package. Our leaders have needfully responded swiftly with many emergency measures to reduce the spread of the virus, shore up a devastated economy and provide needed economic relief for millions of citizens and businesses. 

It’s a denial of the obvious to attempt to live normal lives for a while. There are those who naively claim or believe the pandemic, and its effect, will only last a few more weeks or maybe a month at the most. Many of our leaders are wisely pleading with us and issuing various kinds of recommendations or orders to “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” to reduce the spread of, and exposure to, this virus. 

During this crisis and time of isolation, it’s not productive to spend too much of our newly available time wringing our hands, incessantly watching the news, complaining about the impact on our lives through social media, and shoping when we shouldn’t for more toilet paper than we need. The most important thing we can and should be doing to protect ourselves, families and businesses is to take this threat seriously, trust the real experts that use research-based health protection information. We should wisely follow their recommendations by not becoming part of the problem, by unknowingly spreading the virus and avoiding contracting it from those who are. 

Now that we have a lot more time not being spent on eating out, attending ball games and working out in the gym, there are many productive things that we can be doing with our families, and bored children to increase our preparedness. Engaging in productive physical, intellectual and spiritual activities will increase our preparedness and our physiological well-being. 

Currently global and local pandemic conditions are not even close to the dire situation caused by the pandemic of 1917-18. It sickened an estimated 500 million people, which was over a quarter of the world’s population at the time and killed 17-50 million people. During World War I and the pandemic, food production declined dramatically as a result of damaged food supply chain systems. It created a global food security crisis, which lasted for decades with Europe being especially hard hit. 

In March of 1917 Charles Lathrop Pack, a successful third-generation timber man organized the U.S. National War Garden Commission launching the “war garden” campaign in the United States. Citizens in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany were encouraged to plant “war” or “victory gardens,” as they came to be known, to help people produce some of their own food. 

We should take a lesson from history that will increase our food security during the pandemic of 2020 by growing “victory gardens.” If locally practiced and widely adopted, gardening can help us grow some of our own food that will increase personal, local and global food supplies and security. Gardening is also a great outdoor activity to do with your isolated kids that will give them something worthwhile to do in a way that won’t spread the virus. 

So get outside, soak up the warm spring sunshine and enjoy the real world of things that grow. It will improve everyone’s physical health and especially our physiological well-being. 

Utah State University Extension is still available remotely to help meet educational needs. Our office in the Sevier County Administration Building, at 250 North Main in Richfield, is temporarily closed to do our part to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

We are doing our best to protect our patrons, faculty and staff from the spread of the virus. 

However, we are returning phone calls, email and text messages to answer questions for the people of Sevier Valley. Please call (435) 893-0470, leave your phone number and a brief message, which is being forwarded to our cell phones, and we will call you back. Please check out our fact sheets on our website at and our videos on our YouTube channel. We have over a thousand free, educational, research-based, how-to fact sheets. Once you are on our website, search using a few key words of the topic you are interested in. 

Once you are on YouTube, search by typing in Utah State University Extension and a few key words. Please subscribe to our channel, newsletters and social media feeds if you are interested in regular updates on how to survive the pandemic of 2020. 

In addition to hundreds of gardening and agricultural fact-sheets and videos, we also have hundreds more on a host of topics including, reducing stress during the pandemic, entertaining out of school kids, strengthening your marriage, remote on-line (ROI) employment short course, family and business budgeting, 4-H, and so much more. 

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