Publisher’s column: Better safe than sorry
Ordinarily, the Courier would be giving ample space in this week’s issue to Sunshine Week, the annual observance recognizing the vital role newspapers play in covering local government and holding our elected officials accountable.
But we are in anything but ordinary times. Coronavirus has taken the world by storm and is dominating conversations at home, at work and certainly in the news cycle. That includes this week’s Courier, where a number of stories, information and opinion pieces shed light on COVID-19 and what it means. It’s been a lot to unpack, and I’m afraid the baggage carousel is going to keep on turning.
Things got real for me on Sunday, when Linda Von Eye, our stellar office manager, called me shortly after we had finished lunch at my parents’ house to let me know she had returned safely from her cruse to the Caribbean. She was feeling fine, she said, and wondered if she should come into the office on Monday. I told her I didn’t see a problem with that, but my wife and my mom both questioned my response. Stacey’s exact words were, “I don’t think you’re taking this serious enough.”
They were both right. I called Linda back and told her, on second thought, she should stay home. There’s a lot of uncertainty, I told her, and we needed to be cautious. She got it.
It was only in that moment that I started to understand how real the potential of spread actually is. All it takes is one person who’s come in contact with somebody who has COVID-19 — whether they know it or now — to bring it into this community. And being out of the country, interacting with others who are also out and about, raises that potential significantly.
Our reporting this week includes comments from local health care officials who are on the front line of this thing. They couldn’t emphasize enough that people understand how coronavirus works and how the disease is spread. Yes, it’s close contact with somebody who has it, but it’s also through contact with surfaces like door handles, tables and chairs at restaurants or the front counter at the Courier office.
That’s one of the reasons I made the decision to close the office indefinitely starting Wednesday morning. Of course I’m concerned for the staff, but my decision grew largely with the safety of those coming in and out in mind. Not all businesses can just close their doors; grocery stores and gas stations, for example, need to find a way to stay open.
But the Courier can still do what it does with the front door locked. We remain accessible to the public through phone calls, emails and the mailbox outside our front door, and we have no plans to cease publication. On the contrary, there is no time more critical for newspapers to be accessible and vigilante in their reporting than this. That’s why we’re constantly updating our reporting at freemansd.com.
Those who need to see us should simply get in touch and we can schedule an appointment. My cell number is at the bottom of this column. Be well.