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story.lead_photo.caption Some residents are using their downtown at home by indulging in a little dark humor with adult coloring books. (Submitted photo)

TEXARKANA — With orders to social distance, locals are coming up with ways to spend the hours they once spent in public spaces.

Texarkana, Texas, resident Krista Anderson is "keeping sane" by filling in coloring pages with equally colorful language. Anderson joked that she will gladly trade her masterpieces for "a pack of Cottonelle and a carton of eggs."

Anderson's quip, referring to the panic buying of toilet paper and groceries, is like many others easy to find on social media. Humor, unlike hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, isn't in short supply.

Many local residents are following the Center for Disease Control recommendations to stay home. Experts are advising people who can to work from home and to limit outings to grocery and pharmacy trips.

Sheena Richardson, who is part owner of a small local spa and caring for five kids, two of whom are under age 5, said she is watching CDC and Department of Licensing and Regulation websites to determine if she will have to shutter her business. Richardson said she and her partner spent Tuesday sterilizing linens and sanitizing equipment.

"We have a combined nine children to feed and bills still have to be paid, so the ability to do these things in the coming weeks are growing increasingly stressful," Richardson said.

Richardson and many others who use the Nextdoor social media platform to communicate with their neighbors are limiting public outings and have shifted to grocery pick-up services rather than in-store shopping. Posts on Nextdoor often revolve around missing pets or packages, crime, electrical outages and other issues that allow people to network with their neighbors.

Recently a few posts have popped up of people looking for things they can't find right now, like distilled water for healthcare equipment.

Some are sheltering in their homes because of health concerns.

More than one resident has discussed the concern they have for a family member who has had a kidney transplant. The mother of an 8-year-old said her child is at increased risk because he is on drugs for life that suppress the immune system.

"We aren't leaving our house," the mother said. "Many people could be walking around carrying the virus right now and not have any symptoms but could easily pass it to my immune-compromised son. He would not survive this."

People who are 65 and older are known to be at increased risk for developing serious, life-threatening illness from COVID-19. Many elderly residents say life has changed as they don't feel safe outside their homes.

A lot of residents with small children and babies at home are concerned too.

"I am stocked up on food, water, diapers, wipes, toilet paper, for at least a month. I got all I could afford," said a local mom who worries the eye specialist she works for will close the office for a time, making it hard for her to afford the supplies a growing family consumes.

Others plan to make the best of a tough situation. Rebecca Pruett said her husband already works remotely, attends college online and that they homeschool their children.

"Apart from canceling a few appointments and plans, we aren't facing the same impact many across the nation are," Pruett said. "I think the situation provides a unique opportunity to focus on and spend quality time with our family and make memories in a time when we are always busy and distracted. It does seem as if the world has spiraled out of control in the last few days, but my focus is on the Lord."

Many locals faced with a pandemic are turning to their faith and lamented that concern for virus spread means they can't attend church. A Texarkana woman who looks forward to attending worship services with others and who has recently had a transplant said she is just waiting for the storm of contagion to pass.

"These situations bring out the best and the worst in people," the woman said. "We just have to be patient and pray a lot."

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