The Journal Gazette has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic, as have many other local workplaces. Reporters and editors have been asked to work from home since mid-March to minimize our exposure to the potentially deadly virus. We remain scattered across the city, working on laptop computers from our couches, dens and dining room tables.
My co-workers have used various technology to cover news conferences by the governor, mayor, county commissioners, and state and county health officials. They have kept our readers updated on the growing number of Hoosiers and Allen County residents who have died from COVID-19 or tested positive for the coronavirus.
I've kept up with those sobering facts, part of my responsibility as a journalist and a citizen. I've also kept up with the best advice medical experts have to offer for reducing the spread.
Last Saturday was one of only three times I've been asked to leave home to cover an event since the statewide shutdown began. What used to be a routine part of my work duties has become strange and even, I have to admit, a little scary. But I arrived in downtown Woodburn with a face mask, some sanitizing hand wipes and a positive attitude.
What I found there disturbed me deeply.
About 100 people were gathered in the Woodburn Clock Tower Plaza for a dedication ceremony. Not one of them was wearing a face mask. Needless to say, they weren't standing 6 feet apart, either.
The gathering was to dedicate a “wishing stone,” where Woodburn residents could “make a wish or take a wish.” Inspired by a book read by a fifth-grade class, the idea was to encourage people to wish for peace or good health or some other intangible.
If I had made a wish that day, I would have wished that Woodburn's mayor and city council members would step up and be the leaders their constituents deserve. My second wish would have been that the other adults in the crowd would heed the advice of medical experts. Woodburn's children – and vulnerable adults – are depending on them.
Sherry Slater is the business reporter for The Journal Gazette.