When the history of the coronavirus pandemic is written, each day of these early months will seem like a compressed week when examined by scholars. That's how fast the virus was moving. And in a few short weeks in March, that's how fast the non-essential economy shut down here in Humboldt, as if someone pushed the starting domino in a chain.
There's no doubt we're still somewhere in the uncertain middle of this pandemic, but this first week in May seems a little brighter and more hopeful. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced May 4 that counties can now move from stage one shelter in place to stage two, a "soft" re-opening of some non-essential businesses. That is, if measurable benchmarks are achieved and safety precautions in place.
Humboldt meets those benchmarks now due to its sparse, rural population and relatively quick action on shelter in place. But before we congratulate ourselves, remember that one of those benchmarks, testing one person per 1,000, is a ridiculously low bar. (See our cover story last week, "The Test.")
Nevertheless, Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich and Sheriff William Honsal were upbeat, praising the governor for giving counties some flexibility to accelerate phase two re-opening and to possibly dip a toe into phase three soon — restaurant dining indoors and how to get a haircut safely.
Both Frankovich and Honsal also cautioned how fast things could go south. "One outbreak in a skilled nursing facility could overwhelm" the local health care system, Honsal warned. "We don't want to have to step back," Franovich added.
Another bright spot on the economic front was the money that is finally flowing to small businesses through the federal Payroll Protection Program. (The Journal was a recipient of this loan program.) I've spoken to a number of business owners this past week who say it's already made a huge difference in their ability to keep employees on the payroll or rehire them.
There are a thousand stories out there and we'd like your help. We're asking our readers to tell us your own story of challenges, trials, risks, fears, defeats or successes. Do you have a loved one in a nursing home? Are you being kept informed? How do you communicate? How about those who've been laid off? Did your benefits start in a timely manner? How long did you have to wait and are you still waiting? Educators are teaching students online from home plus teaching their own kids, too. How's that going? Have you or someone close to you had the coronavirus and recovered? Are you ready to talk about it? Or maybe you're a healthcare worker concerned about PPE? (No matter what you want to share, we will assure privacy if you request it.) And to my fellow business owners, what's working for you and what's not? Are you going to make it through 2020?
Hoping you remain safe and well, Humboldt, as we weather this difficult time together.
Judy Hodgson is the Journal's publisher and co-owner, and prefers she/her pronouns.