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Journalists have you covered

Anyone else in a bit of a “what the heck is happening?” fog? A person could go nuts trying to read every last bit of information and evolving guidance that has come our way in the past week. I read someone said “I constantly feel like I’m either over- or underreacting, or really both at the exact same time.” I can identify with that.

Maybe that’s because among the people who HAVE been trying to absorb all of it are the folks working at community newspapers. And we haven’t gone nuts. Not yet, anyway. There is too much our readers need to know.

As news broke that West Virginia’s first COVID-19 case had been confirmed, the only detail we got from the state was that it was somewhere in the Eastern Panhandle. That’s a pretty big area — 8 counties.

In other states, officials were releasing the counties in which cases had been confirmed, and, when they could, HOW officials think that person likely came in contact with the virus. No such information came from Charleston.

But one of my colleagues at The Journal in Martinsburg did his job. Not only were we able to tell readers exactly where the case had been found, but the challenges a man and his wife faced in getting test results. The story we got might help someone else. Certainly our readers are better armed with the information.

Our reporters have been keeping on top of the kinds of things you won’t read in the New York Times — church services canceled, club meetings postponed, restaurants with available carry-out or delivery … and, of course, where COVID-19 testing is available for YOU.

We were able to tell you a case had been confirmed in Jackson County.

As local boards, commissions and councils try to figure out how to hold public meetings, we are there. So long as those elected officials continue to conduct the public’s business in a way we can access, we will continue to report it to you.

We’ve got you covered.

I know, though, how strange and even scary all this is. I know so many of you are dealing with a really unusual new normal while worried about what the future might hold economically; and maybe even about your own or a loved one’s health. I know that worry is becoming a physical sensation at this point.

Try not to focus on it. Instead, focus on what new things you can learn; what you can do differently; what you can explore. Focus on how grateful you are for all those things you miss right now. Focus on how you can help.

And, just to be clear, for a lot of folks, the best way they can help is to follow guidelines and stay home. Period.

Small businesses are taking a hit. (Some bigger businesses are taking a hit). Restaurants are doing their best to stay afloat, hoping you will order take-out or delivery. Nonprofits are going to face enormous challenges.

We’d better be using our time at home to start thinking about what we are learning that can shape a better community for all of us, on the other side.

And there will be an other side. This will end … we just don’t know when.

Be smart, be safe, stay positive (check on those who are having a harder time with that), and breathe. This, too, shall pass.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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