PIKEVILLE, Ky. — The outbreak of COVID-19 in Kentucky and across the nation has completely disrupted life.

In light of this and heightened restrictions and awareness at the local, state and federal levels, Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) has launched a webpage (www.thereisafuture.org/covid19) to provide information and awareness to the people of Appalachia Kentucky during COVID-19.

“As a backbone organization committed to the future of Appalachia Kentucky, we are doing what a lot of other businesses, organizations and people are doing — we are adapting,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “Our team has shifted the focus of our work almost exclusively to providing assistance to our region and network of more than 250 partners. We believe that the creation of this webpage is a significant first step in keeping information and resources updated and fluid to the people of Appalachia Kentucky.”

SOAR has had a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since its inception in 2013. Dr. Margo Riggs, a CDC epidemiologist, joined SOAR’s team last year.

She is currently serving as a point person throughout Appalachia Kentucky to help coordinate efforts at the local, state and federal levels. SOAR is also leading efforts to keep communication fluid between health providers and health departments with state and federal public health agencies.

SOAR’s Business and Innovation team is working to assist small businesses through these difficult times, providing resources to funding streams and helping to create or enhance an e-commerce presence.

SOAR’s COVID-19 webpage provides resources from the CDC and Kentucky Department for Public Health. This includes information on how to protect yourself, your home and your family, as well as resources for mental health, displaced employees, small businesses, schools, teachers and students. It also provides a link to resources for information and testing provided by the state and federal government.

“We know that our organization has a far reach throughout Appalachia Kentucky, and we believe it is important to leverage that asset to provide meaningful information and updates related to this virus,” added Arnett. “It also important that we provide a platform where resources and information can be concise, condensed, and customized to the people of our region.”

Following recommendations from state and federal public health agencies, SOAR employees are working remotely through March and have suspended all non-essential travel.

For small business owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, SOAR’s team of Business and Innovation Champions are available to help. SOAR Innovation is a partnership between SOAR and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Office of Entrepreneurship.

For more information on SOAR, call 606-766-1160 or email Associate Executive Director Joshua Ball at joshua@soar-ky.org.