There is much uncertainty today.
One thing is certain: Our lives have changed greatly in the past 10 days.
Schools are closed. Tables sit empty in restaurants. Nursing homes and hospitals forbid visitors. Grocery store shelves have been emptied of toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Athletic fields and gyms are desolate. Many employees work from home. Clubs and organizations have canceled meetings indefinitely.
Every day it seems COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease, takes another piece of normalcy from our lives.
For many weeks, too many people went about their lives with little change. The coronavirus was no more serious than the flu. The media was blowing this out of proportion.
That changed March 16, the first day of the governor’s order to close schools throughout the state. Public gatherings were limited to 50 people.
The limit on public gatherings has been lowered to 10.
The disease became much more real, its deadly reach getting closer to all of us.
Every day brings an escalation of the number of people sick, the number of people dying. Italy seems to be the worst currently, but the United States is quickly catching up.
The number of people sick in Iowa escalates exponentially.
Life’s events are being canceled. Weddings and funerals are being postponed or held as small family gatherings.
School districts discuss postponing prom and graduation. No one knows if spring sports will be played this year.
There is a fear, a palpable fear, in our community.
People are being laid off or are living in dread of being laid off in the near future. Retirement funds shrivel as the stock market plunges.
Restaurants were among the first to bear the brunt of the order to close in the name of social distancing but within days other businesses closed their doors.
Downtown parking spaces sit empty as people hunker down in their homes.
At The News, we have closed our office to walk-in traffic to better protect the health and safety of our employees. We are working, but the hours we are staffing the office are shortened.
With the cancellation of school sporting events, we have eliminated the sports section of the newspaper and reduced the number of pages we are printing each week.
As we see advertising canceled, we look for ways to maintain our operations.
We received a helping hand from the city of Kalona, which is paying to have the newspaper delivered to all Kalona households this week and next.
People turn to the newspaper for information on the coronavirus and how it is affecting our area. The newspaper provides information that is not available anywhere else.
To make the newspaper available to more households in our area, we are currently offering a 15% discount on one-year subscriptions to the newspaper. There is a coupon on Page 10 of today’s newspaper. The offer is good through April 15.
The newspaper is not the only one adapting. Restaurants offer carry-out meals. The Kalona Area Chamber of Commerce provides a list of businesses that have changed their store hours. Retail shops may have their doors locked, but customers are reaching out to merchants online, buying things.
And that is what gives us hope. Although things appear dark now, we know Americans, and Iowans specifically, will rise to the challenge. We are innovative. We know that this situation – although it may last for months – will improve in the future. Those who can will help those who fall on hard times.
This is who we are. We can all be proud of that.