The other morning, I was making the bed with a morning television news program playing in the background. As the normally cheerful anchor adopted a serious tone and gave updates on the global pandemic, a bit of chill ran through me.
The moment felt like the opening of a scary movie, where the woman pays no attention to that news, but the seeds of storytelling are planted with the movie viewer.
Of course, unlike the woman in the movie, I am paying attention. But I also recognize that life does keep going. Pandemic or not, I’m still making the bed.
It’s has been quite a past week in the business of news media.
Or perhaps I should say, in the world of community journalism. Because a lot of the references to THE MEDIA I’ve heard lately have not been kind. There are those who think the reaction to COVID-19 can be blamed on media hype.
Suddenly, social media is filled with people who know more than medical experts. They are fortified by people like Fox Business host Trish Regan, who said last week that the media was hyping news about the virus in an “attempt to destroy” President Donald Trump by bringing on a recession.
Suggesting that a real health threat is little more than political maneuvering is a dangerous theory to extol.
I don’t believe this is a plague that will end the world, and I’m not stockpiling toilet paper. But it most certainly is something that will get far worse, especially if people continue to ignore the advice of experts.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson tried to set the record straight, criticizing those who “spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem,” casting it as “just partisan politics” or “just like the flu.”
“It’s definitely not just the flu,” Carlson said. “People you know will get sick. Some may die. This is real.”
A prime example of science mockery and general jackass behavior came from NBA player Rudy Gobert, who taunted members of the media by purposely touching all the microphones and recording devices that reporters had placed on the table in front of him as he left a news conference.
Two days later, he tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
We should not panic. But we should not be foolish either.
Meanwhile, we at the TH are working hard to keep our community informed. As I announced last week, all of our news coverage regarding the coronavirus, including public announcements, cancellations and the latest updates, will be accessible for free to all people, regardless of whether they are subscribers.
At a critical time like this, it is vitally important to get reliable information from trusted sources.
If you hear from your neighbor or your cousin or your neighbor’s cousin that there have been one or two or three cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Dubuque, check your sources. Last week, I fielded multiple calls from people wanting to let me know that they had it on good authority that there were cases in Dubuque. Some insisted they knew details, though those details didn’t match up to the other callers I got.
Here’s what I tell them: There is mandatory reporting of infectious diseases. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, his or her health care provider will report it to the state. The Iowa Department of Health is updating the status of cases in the state daily. You can check it yourself at idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus. Currently, most of the cases in Iowa are in Johnson County, and there are none in Dubuque, Jackson, Clayton or Delaware counties.
Our reporters are on top of this. If we haven’t reported it, then it has not yet been verified. You can see all our coverage and the most up-to-date information on the virus and related cancelations at www.telegraphherald.com/coronavirus.
If you have questions as this issue continues to unfold, our reporters can help find answers. Submit them at www.telegraphherald.com/site/forms/ask_the_th/.
Hang in there, folks. We’re going to get through this. As always, I appreciate your support and welcome your feedback.