The Herald Democrat is used to uncertainty. Coverage decisions are often made on the fly and improvisation plays a large part in the newspaper’s production days. Problem-solving is one of our strengths.

But when the Herald’s staff met on Friday to discuss a COVID-19 coverage and contingency plan, things felt different. Like many of you, we faced a set of heavy questions.

How do we help the community? How do we keep sensationalism out of our reporting on COVID-19? Do we replace the “Community Calendar” with a “Community Cancellation” list? How will we fill a paper without high school sports, races and colorful community events? Could we pull off publishing the newspaper remotely? How can we keep a beat on the COVID-19 crisis while ensuring the health of our staff, loved ones and greater community?

Many businesses, public entities, families and individuals across Lake County have been forced to examine their impact on society in the last week, often resulting in tough decision-making.

In this time of uncertainty, it is important to remember that decision making is a privilege. And there are members of the Lake County community who do not hold such an entitlement.

Many Lake County residents continue to drive over Battle Mountain each day, despite Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s warnings, to work in homes and hotels in Eagle County, a current hotspot for COVID-19.

Local cancer patients with compromised immune systems must still check into hospitals for treatment. And others, who work in the hospitality and ski industry, don’t get to decide when they will hold a paycheck again.

Then there are the employees of Leadville Safeway — individuals on the front line of pandemic panic. Cashiers do not get to choose whether they touch our dollar bills and groceries. It is their job.

The only thing worse than making a tough decision is having no decision to make. And so, we must hold compassion for one another. Even if it’s from six feet away.

As COVID-19 spread across the globe, the virus was referred to as a rich person’s disease, spread by those with the means to travel the world.

But community transmission is now present in Colorado’s high country, opening Lake County’s most physically and economically vulnerable populations to the disease. Though a COVID-19 case is yet to be confirmed in Lake County, it is likely just a matter of time.

Forget the ski lifts, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the spring break trip. Right now, strength means staying calm, informed and, if life allows it, at home.

On Friday, the Herald launched a website subsection dedicated to COVID-19 coverage in Lake County on leadvilleherald.com. Articles will be updated daily and are free to all readers.

The uncertainty in the shadows of COVID-19 will continue to lurk in Lake County in the coming weeks. We hope the Herald’s online coverage can provide a sense of stability.

Stay strong and be well.

Rachel Woolworth

Herald Editor

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