Coronavirus calls for no ordinary local news coverage

  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020 9:34am
  • Opinion

Last week, The Beachcomber’s editorial spoke about the importance of islanders practicing good hygiene to protect themselves from contracting the potentially deadly coronavirus.

The opinion piece was the first since it became known two weeks ago that the first COVID-19 death in the United States occurred in King County.

At the time, with the situation rapidly evolving, many islanders responded by buying up products like rice, soup, paper towels, tissue and, most of all, hand sanitizer.

But that was just the beginning.

What changed over the next week was the number of announcements by local organizations saying they would seriously scale back or halt altogether, for a period of time, their activities in light of COVID-19.

The Beachcomber was quick to notice the trend — which included announcements ranging from churches to Vashon Center for the Arts — and devoted an online story to the developments, which we are continually updating.

What is not lost on us at The Beachcomber is not only the trend in snap decision-making from these island entities but the underlying message it is sending to everyone who lives here: These are no ordinary times.

The story of coronavirus seems not just to be a flash at the end of the evening news. It’s a rapidly evolving story, with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who are known to have it and thousands dead. A growing number of states are reporting someone living there has the virus; widely recognized and respected conferences are being canceled; planes are seeing less passengers; and this week, in a stunning decision, Italy’s prime minister banned all travel to and from his country to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Closer to home, Public Health – Seattle and King County provide daily the county’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, which stands a 190 and 22, respectivelty, as of Tuesday afternoon, The Beachcomber’s press time.

The amount of information and news reports on coronavirus seem to be translating into a state of great uncertainty for many islanders over whether they, a family member or friend have come in contact with the potentially deadly virus.

The Beachcomber recognizes this uncertain situation and resolves to make one thing certain: Reaffirm our commitment to you to be a trusted source of information.

That’s why, in the pages of this week’s edition, you’ll see a significant number of articles on the coronavirus written by our reporters. In less than a week, we spoke to officials with the Vashon Senior Center, the food bank, Vashon Community Care, Vashon Center for the Arts, Open Space for Arts & Community, the library, our schools and community leaders.

In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue to find new angles to this ever-changing story. We’re seasoned on this front, but we could use your help. Please send any information or news tips you have about island-related coronavirus stories to You may also submit news tips to our website,, or visit our Facebook page.

We’re telling the story of how coronavirus is impacting our island — even if there’s no confirmed case yet — and we’ll continue to report on it. We’re on this job and we’re up to the task. We won’t let you down.

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