Exactly one year ago, I filled this space bemoaning that COVID-19 made 2020 a year we all wanted to forget.
And here we are, a full 365 days later, and we again are witnessing COVID-19 case numbers jet upwards.
Despite what many readers might believe, we do not sit around the conference room table plotting how we can drive panicked people to the corner market to buy our newspaper. Believe me when I say we truly are not in the business of fearmongering.
Granted, our editors do discuss every day what stories should go where. However, we base those decisions on what is the most impactful or interesting story of the day — not the scariest.
At least twice last week the editors, including myself, decided to place the latest reports of skyrocketing COVID-19 case numbers on the newspaper’s front page. Thursday, for instance, we reported that one day after breaking the record for the most COVID-19 cases reported in a single day, Ohio did it again. The state had 12,864 new cases reported Wednesday, the day after 12,502 cases were reported, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Now, does the COVID-19 story belong on A1 every day? Probably not.
While the new omicron variant is said to be even more contagious than previous versions of COVID-19, I’m not convinced that it is infecting people as ferociously, particularly those of us who are fully vaccinated. Many indications are that this new variant, in fact, is somewhat more mild than previous versions of COVID-19. And as more people become vaccinated and “boosted,” I’m optimistic that the effects might not be as dire.
But will the story still remain in our paper every day? Absolutely. This information is critically important because, whether or not you fear COVID-19, we are living in a global pandemic. It is our job to provide data and information on it. In journalism, reporting facts and data is critically important for the sake of historical record.
A reader recently asked why we keep writing about COVID-19, I presume because he didn’t think it warranted the amount of ongoing coverage.
Agree or disagree with the impact, seriousness or importance of COVID, undoubtedly, it has touched every one of us.
Remember early on when some believed it was just a hoax to sway the election, or no more serious than the flu or common cold? But now, two years later, this mutating virus continues to affect people everywhere and of all races, all political affiliations and in all walks of life.
We all know someone who has been infected, hospitalized or who has died from COVID-19. We all have an opinion on whether our kids should be required to wear facemasks in school, or if they should even be going to school right now.
We all have opinions on the constitutionality of vaccine mandates or government’s attempts to force businesses to require employees be vaccinated or regularly tested — or government’s attempts to ban private business from setting such rules.
Heck, we all have opinions on whether the vaccines are even safe. I still hear from people who are absolutely convinced these vaccines are somehow slowly poisoning all of us.
So, yes, our coverage of COVID-19 will be in the newspaper — somewhere — every day until it has finally passed or, at least slowed enough that it’s no longer impactful to our daily lives. Until then, the COVID-19 coverage might not be on A1, but it’ll be here somewhere.
There is no other media that records and documents history — particularly local history — on paper in this way. There is no other news media that allows you to clip, laminate and preserve history as it was first reported, without the possibility of edits or alterations to a web post.
And as we continue to count down the top 10 stories of the year, I think it’s pretty obvious that COVID-19 will be high on our list once again this year.
That’s unfortunate because we all want it to go away. But until it really does, we’ll be writing about it.