Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
4:55 am EDT
Tue, July 7, 2020

My First Time: Leslie Campione

Lake County Commission chairwoman navigates a pandemic.

 Photo: Douglas Tyler

Since the first positive case in Lake County, the COVID-19 pandemic has been my highest priority. I knew I needed to stay focused on one goal: protecting the safety of our residents with the most effective but least restrictive means possible so we could save lives and livelihoods. This situation is no doubt a “first” for me, but it is for all of us.

At first, everything revolved around getting information to residents so they could protect themselves and their families. As we learned more about the virus, I felt an incredible sense of urgency that hours could mean the difference in preventing someone’s exposure to it. We coordinated with our health department on testing and contact tracing, collaborated with our hospitals to assure ICU bed and ventilator availability, and conserved county resources while maintaining basic services to prevent panic and assure stability.

I’ve spent many sleepless nights worrying about my fellow Lake Countians and their health, their businesses and their jobs. I have grieved with people who have lost loved ones, and I have feared for the safety of my own parents and family. And in the midst of the grief, I felt the joy of welcoming my first grandchild into this world and the frustration of having to be tested and quarantined as I waited for the results—which seemed like an eternity—before I could hold him. 

 

I feel so much gratitude to everyone who is taking care of others by working in checkout lines, delivering food, sewing masks, providing medical care and even using their own savings to help keep others employed. Countless residents have lifted each other up with acts of kindness and good humor. 

I know there is a silver lining if we are willing to look for it. I can’t help but believe we are learning valuable lessons that will help us navigate the unexpected and teach us how to hold true to our values with empathy and compassion. This has been a 24/7 situation that never leaves the forefront of my thoughts. I hurt for everyone who is experiencing loss right now and I won’t stop working to do my part to help them—and to help our community thrive again.  

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