Greene County Public Health to dedicate time capsule commemorating COVID-19

Greene County Public Health will dedicate a time capsule on Oct. 8, containing items commemorating 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. CONTRIBUTED.
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Greene County Public Health will dedicate a time capsule on Oct. 8, containing items commemorating 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. CONTRIBUTED.

Health department celebrating 100 years of service to the community.

Fifty years from now, how will COVID-19 be remembered? How will the pandemic be recorded in the annals of history, both in the Miami Valley and around the globe? Those at Greene County Public Health plan to leave a message for future generations, one of hope, resilience, and the strength to continue in the face of impossible odds.

Greene County Public Health is celebrating its 100th anniversary, commemorating the occasion with the burial of a time capsule to be opened in the year 2070. The time capsule will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 at the health district building at 360 Wilson Drive in Xenia.

Buried at the base of historical sign, the items in the time capsule will provide a glimpse of what public health was like for Greene County in 2020.

“We’re excited about it. It’s overdue,” said GCPH public information officer Laurie Fox. “Our 100th anniversary was overshadowed by the pandemic. This year we decided we’re going to celebrate one last thing.”

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The time capsule will contain a mini bottle of hand sanitizer, two syringes, each filled with a dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, a pin reading “I got my COVID-19 vaccine!”, three empty vials of the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer, a mug, t-shirt and of course a mask.

The capsule will also contain a blank vaccine card, photos of vaccine clinics, and documents that showcase the agency more broadly: Greene County’s programs and services guide, a guide to emergency preparedness, and a copy of the board of commissioner’s 2020 annual report, which details the clinics, vaccinations and other programs that Greene County Public Health has accomplished.

“This is an opportunity to share where we have been, what has been accomplished and give future generations a view into what it was like to live in turbulent times and still have hope,” said Health Commissioner Melissa Howell.

In 1920, the year of Greene County Public Health’s founding, the United States was grappling with the final waves of the 1918 influenza pandemic, or the Spanish Flu. Last year, Greene County Public Health found themselves celebrating their centennial amid another wave of disease.

“We think about it every day how odd and how weird it is, to be celebrating 100 years in the middle of a pandemic,” Fox said. “It’s almost surreal. It certainly wasn’t anything we had planned.”

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The capsule will not be opened again until 2070. When it comes time for the capsule to be dug up, Fox says, she hopes those future researchers and public health professionals will see the good.

“I look back and of course, you and I, we don’t remember life during a pandemic. And I’m hoping that those who come after us won’t have to,” she said. “I hope those people, when they open the time capsule, they see that public health workers were at the forefront, and other public health workers were so essential to life continuing, whatever that might be. I hope they see the resilience of a people sharing the right information at the right time to help people make important decisions. I hope they look back and see if we can do it, they can do it too.”