There's a line in the theme song from the old television show "Green Acres" that goes, "Keep Manhattan just gimme that countryside."

Whether we prefer the countryside or not, here in our neck of Central Pennsylvania, we are in it.

This is not just any countryside, though. And Danville is not just any small town.

The COVID-19 pandemic is just one reminder of that. 

We surround a major medical center that draws national attention, most recently in a Washington Post article that focused on Geisinger's and the community's fight against the virus that has sickened more than 4.6 million people around the world and 1.4 million in the United States, and killed more than 311,000 globally and nearly 89,000 in our country.

Montour County has had only 50 COVID-19 cases and no deaths from the virus.

Our sparse population and stay-at-home orders from the state certainly can be said to have contributed to those low numbers. It doesn't hurt having a massive research hospital here, either.

Not to take anything away from what major cities have to offer in opportunities and culture, but this area has plenty of offerings of its own. In addition to the rarity of a Geisinger in such a rural area, and besides the lower crime rate, scenic views, recreation venues and fresh air, education is also among the best. Danville Area High School is ranked 33rd out of the more than 750 high schools ranked across the state, and 1,007 out of nearly 18,000 school districts ranked nationally, according to the U.S. News & World Report ranking.

The Danville Area School District also is where Andrea Baney, one of 12 finalists for 2021 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, teaches math to fourth-graders. Another one of those finalists, Debra Barrick, teaches right down the road in the Selinsgrove Area School District.

This being an agricultural area, our farmers help to feed the state and the world.

Something else has happened here, though, a direct result of the pandemic that has crippled the country's economy and trapped millions in their homes most days.

While people elsewhere have gathered in groups to protest their lack of "freedom" during state shutdowns — either because they doubt the severity of this highly contagious virus, for which there is no vaccine, or because they simply have lost patience — the people of Montour County and surrounding areas have focused on helping each other, providing meals for frontline workers in health care and in grocery stores, making masks or other protective clothing or doing so many other acts of kindness for others.

As has been said, we will get through this together. It is irritating to most of us, though, that the ignorance or childishness of others could make the task that much more difficult by spurring a resurgence of the virus. A new wave of the illness that could shut down businesses and idle workers once again. Not to mention sickening and possibly killing more people.

The end is in sight, if we maintain precautions, keep wearing face masks in public, washing our hands and observing social distancing. We've come this far.

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