As I write this, I’m sitting in my home office, listening to the latest updates on the global pandemic and telecommuting to protect your and my safety. Actually, it’s not as much an office as it is a desk in the middle of a combination guest room and storage locker, but when a global pandemic hits and you’re #doingyourpart to flatten the infection curve, you take what you can get.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt baffled, bummed and more than a little alarmed over the past few weeks. This novel coronavirus, the cause of COVID-19, came to the nation’s attention with the force of a hurricane. In slightly more than a month, the U.S. went from a single death and its first hospitalizations tied to the virus (announced Feb. 29 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), to, as of our April 2 deadline 213,144 cases and 4,513 fatalities. In Colorado, we’ve seen 3,728 confirmed cases as of April 2, with 710 hospitalizations and 97 deaths.
This isn’t intended to alarm, but rather to inform. And among the things I want you to understand is how seriously we are taking your safety and that of our hard-working staff.
So here’s what we’re doing:
We have enabled every member of our team, from our reporters and sales staff to our digital director and designers, to telecommute as they see fit. As of this writing, Colorado is under a statewide stay-at-home order, which is designed not just to protect ourselves but to reduce the risk of community spread and, thus, curb the trajectory of this virus. In addition to working from home, we are also reducing the number of face-to-face interviews and meetings we are conducting, opting instead for phone conversations and video chats. When an assignment does necessitate us swinging by, please don’t be offended if we’re dressed down a bit — possibly wearing gloves and/or masks — and adhering to the 6-foot social distancing guidelines. Hey, as weird as they seem, those long-distance “air hugs” are in practice to keep both you and us safe.
Our printer has taken aggressive steps to make sure that the only team members operating out of its building are the production-critical staff, meaning the lone individuals who have any contact with the product are the pre-press, press and delivery personnel. Plus, the process is hugely mechanical, so your paper wasn’t touched on their end. And although many of our pickup sites are closed to the public due to the virus, when our drivers can drop off, they are wearing gloves to protect their and your wellness.
We are doing everything we can to highlight the small businesses, social enterprises, nonprofits, health care providers and other institutions that are going above-and-beyond in these uncertain times to make sure this community gets the service and support it needs. You can find the listings of what we knew as of press time starting on page 10. Now to be very clear, under no circumstances are we saying you should be gathering en masse, but if you need to get somewhere, it’s nice to know Mountain Metro is still running some routes.
With our sister paper, the Colorado Springs Independent, we’re participating in a promotion to help our friends in the culinary industry ride out the storm. Show us images of your takeout meals on Instagram and Facebook, using the hashtag #DineINdy. The reader with the most likes will receive a $25 gift certificate to a local eatery, and the restaurant with the most hashtags will receive a free, monthlong advertising package in the Indy. How cool would it be to make that a Southeast COS hot spot and put our colorful, creative dining scene on the greater community’s radar?
I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I am pledging, here and now, that the Southeast Express will be here for you, throughout and in the aftermath of this crisis.
We know how important it is to you that we continue to be your best marketplace for both products and services and for ideas. The fact that you’re reading this sentence tells me that you value the mix of news and information, of voices and ideas, of business and culture and sports that we bring to you each and every month, and I want you to know how very much we value you.
We fully intend to continue to support the community that we love both now, as COVID-19 rears its ugly head, and once it is just a bad memory. We are tremendously grateful to our underwriting partners who have helped us not just launch this newspaper but who are continuing to sustain it during a time of spiritual, public health and yes, financial, crisis. If you want to join them in showing your support for the Express, please visit our website, southeastexpress.org, for details on how you can make a donation to support our mission.
Either way, stay well, stay kind, stay informed and, above all, stay safe. We will do what we can to make it easy for you, and together, we will ride through this storm. I am certain we will come out a stronger, better community once it passes.
Contact Southeast Express Editor and
General Manager Regan Foster at (719) 578-2802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.