As of this morning New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont posted an estimated more than 250 COVID-19 cases, Connecticut 1,200, Massachusetts 2,500 and New York likely breaching 40,000. Just hours after submitting my last blog on coronavirus and our industry, the situation took a dramatic turn. Governor Sununu of New Hampshire announced:

Today I issued Executive Order 17, relative to a stay at home order. Make sure you’re familiar with the industries and services that will continue to function for the benefit of public health and safety.”

Sununu requested EO17 be enacted as of 11:59 p.m. on March 27. Immediately phones rang, texts dinged and emails poured: Can we operate? Can we cross state lines? What is considered “essential business”? Can we open our doors, can we do business? Drawing from what we have learned thus far from other states, we began to discuss the situation in detail. Our primary focus was this: Obtain proper and accurate information. Educate all involved. Maintain composure while implementing recommended safety measures. Provide for personal health and safety. And, protect the financial security of all involved.

Writing about the myriad of rules, restrictions and guidelines for this post seems unnecessary, as by this morning I am convinced everyone from CNN and Fox to our great aunts and sisters-in-law have us all properly educated, or at least involved in our pandemic situation. We also know that holding your breath proves nothing, ibuprofen is not a problem, and Tom Hanks is doing okay. Same page, right? With our homes seemingly stable and comfortable, I contacted our staff and we began to consider how our flooring distribution center would operate this week, as opposed to where we left off last Friday.

Our delivery trucks rolled out at 7 this morning. Our driver/delivery personnel are equipped with CDC-recommended gloves, dust masks, and social distancing protocols. We speak with any recipients on the delivery end to make sure they observe our restrictions, or the delivery will be rescheduled/cancelled. No one is to assist our delivery personnel, and anyone present during delivery is requested to stay 12 feet from our driver and equipment. Contractors and civilians alike are asked to observe recommended safety guidelines.

Our offices and point-of-sales are locked down with curbside service only. Each facility is stocked with hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, bleach sterile wipes and hand soaps. Work stations are 12 feet or more apart, and we do not share phones or equipment. We are operating our office with three staff members. We have all been symptom-free for over three weeks, and the same goes for our homes, where we all follow the same procedures.

Our customers report that they have, for now, plenty of work. Most hardwood flooring companies are one- and two-man crews, so it doesn’t take much work to keep everyone fairly productive. I have spoken with recipients of our flooring material, and some say that they chose to install the flooring themselves since they have plenty of both free time and free hands at home. Some are DIY folks who purchase material through their flooring contractor or retailer and then have their floor guy come in for the finish work. Others (prefinished buyers, mostly) install the flooring themselves.

At present, there are days we have a few N95 respirators and days there are none. Note: A respirator is not to be confused with a dust mask! That would be an entirely separate blog, just know that you need to follow CDC and government health and safety guidelines. Like everyone else, we find respirators and paper products difficult to come by, but not impossible. (See photo at right—do you see what's holding up the TP? Yes, that's a piece of spline.)

I have never seen so many new faces in our neighborhood. People, in general, seem to be maintaining social distancing while finding opportunities to get out of their homes and get some fresh air. I sent out a video I found to be very funny this weekend on Facebook. I don’t often repost material, but if it is truly, universally funny, I think we all need to laugh, so ZOOM! Out she goes, and here it is:

It wasn’t that long ago that the world joked about the virtual viruses that plagued our computers: Trojan, Botnet, Scareware. I include in this “Baby Shark” and that scary dude who jumps out at you and screams after you get suckered into some cool video! Today, however, we use our computers to combat a virus that is real, omnipresent, and insidious: COVID-19. We will all know the names for this wretched virus long after our favorite viral videos are forgotten, and countless lives have been permanently, and often sadly, changed. With all the political ramping up over the past several months, I get the feeling, like 9-11, that the American people and those of the world are taking this pandemic on as our common enemy. I feel workers will be working, first responders and medical staff will keep doing their best, and we all will come together for the common good. Stay well, all. Be supportive. Be caring. Be calm. Be helpful. There is something I like to say quite often, and I would like to put it here for your consideration: “We got this.” Keep up the greatness, everyone, we got this.

Stephen Diggins works for Wood Pro Inc. in their Salem, N.H., branch as manager and training director. He has many years of installation, sanding, finishing, gymnasium design and technical consulting experience, which he uses to assist his flooring customers on a regular basis. With almost 30 years in the flooring industry, he has been a freelance columnist for magazine, newsprint and online medias and has conducted product seminars ranging from wood flooring to luxury vinyl tile.