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Coverage of the virus ‘essential’

Shop Talk

What day is it?

Oh, Sunday.

The days since initial concern over the coronavrius quickly morphed into a pandemic — challenging our world like never before — are running together so please forgive me.

You’re seeing designations of “essential” and “life-sustaining” references to various businesses.

Newspapers and media have long been recognized as such in order to help keep the public informed.

That’s especially “essential” during time of crisis, and the coronavirus, with the damage it’s done and all the uncertainty and fear that it’s created, qualifies as a crisis as much as anything we’ve experienced in our lifetime.

Our hearts go out to all those affected — and that’s all of us in one way or another, be it emotionally, financially, spiritually or otherwise.

While still answering the bell every single day with a printed publication and an updated website, the Mirror has taken steps to comply with recommended public health requirements of social distancing.

Most of our reporters are working from home along with some advertising and graphic personnel.

We have closed our front door to the public to limit interaction and have encouraged online bill payment, subscription renewal and story tips.

Of course, we hope the adjustment is temporary as we’ve always welcomed the public, dating back to our downtown location on Green Avenue.

We’ve created a separate COVID-19 entry on altoonamirror.com and have loaded related stories — local, regional, national and international — on it, often 10 per day.

Our daily 5:20 p.m. budget meeting, when we decide not only what’s on Page 1 but also what goes “above the fold” has seen virtually every Associated Press story slugged “virus.”

In the newsroom, it’s been all (washed) hands on deck with every reporter covering as many angles as possible along with sports and feature writers jumping in to contribute.

Story suggestions as we go can be directed to me at the address below.

Our award-winning sports section is making the best of a most difficult situation, and kudos (we call them kujos) to Sports Editor Buck Frank on the selection and preparation of a daily archived story from the past 100 years.

I did not know Rocky Marciano had been in Altoona in the late 1960s but was not surprised that he was tracked down by Herb Werner.

Speaking of past sports editors and mentors, Jim Lane turned 80 on Friday. Happy birthday, Jim.

Herb is looking down from above — where the bowling alleys and golf courses are never closed — and Jim is thankfully doing well, but many of our other seniors are not.

This virus has quarantined nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and those already in isolation are left further alone by something many of us — definitely me — don’t fully understand, other than the severity of its potential, let alone how and why it barged into the spring of 2020.

Most saddening, too, is the fact that public gathering is also suspended as this is most certainly a time to take comfort in each other and worship in our congregations, praying with all of our hearts that a remedy to this unprecedented disease comes sooner than later.

That’s one giant, banner headline we cannot wait to write.

Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoonamirror.com.

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