Health experts warned Americans last weekend to brace for impact as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose higher in the country.
“This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans lives, quite frankly,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News Sunday. “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9-11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized, it’s going to be happening all over the country.”
Adams added that the public, along with state and federal officials, has the power to “change the trajectory” of the pandemic by continuing to observe social distancing, enforcing stay-at-home orders and following precautions. But there is no doubt that by the time this issue of The Beachcomber is circulated and mailed off across the island that more lives will be lost, and the virus will continue to wreak havoc on the lives of everyday people in a painful myriad of ways.
This week, researchers at the University of Washington offered a small glimmer of hope as they revised earlier projections of deaths in the state as a result of the novel coronavirus. New modeling suggests that with full social distancing implemented through next month, the state could expect 632 deaths by August, far shorter than original estimates.
There is little satisfaction to be found, however, in any number of casualties from this virus, great or small. And before this pandemic is over, the world will have been profoundly transformed by the events as they unfolded.
We too, at The Beachcomber, are now coming to terms with dramatic upheaval at the paper in light of staff turnover caused by the economic decline that greatly affected our parent company, Sound Publishing. You will see some familiar names in our pages this week but we are not the same publication that we were a few mere weeks ago.
It is worth noting that Vashon is, in many respects, not the same community it was only weeks ago. Our leaders and volunteers conduct official business online and recently held a town hall to discuss impacts around COVID-19 on Zoom, live-steaming the remote meeting to the web and on social media. More events have been canceled or postponed. This always-bustling island is much quieter — though still active.
At The Beachcomber, we can assure you that it has never been busier. And we are relieved and proud to say that we expect to be in print through the month of April and beyond, if the community supports us.
Many have commented that the paper is shutting down. It is not. If you were misled by a headline that all staff has been furloughed at the paper, we apologize — there is one writer remaining at The Beachcomber working part-time, as well as the publisher and administrative coordinator. You may email Rowley questions, story tips, comments or constructive criticism at email@example.com.
Please know that it is a difficult job to write for a newspaper — even a modest one such as The Beachcomber — in the best of times. This work is especially challenging in times such as these, and your patience is sincerely appreciated as we navigate all of this with you.
In this issue, you will find a paid center spread across two pages featuring a collection of personal messages between neighbors in the midst of this crisis. Those messages are what keep us going. But so is the revenue they generate to keep us in print.
Like many publications, we are dependent on advertising revenue. And now more than ever, we need the support of the community to continue providing the news and keep the island connected.
It may be safe to say that this paper has faced no greater threat than COVID-19 in the 63 years it has served the island. But we are resolute in our mission to keep the print paper going. If you have the means, please consider purchasing a box to share your own uplifting message of connection in next week’s print issue. Your support means everything to us. Thank you for reading.