Under normal circumstances, how often do you have an exchange with someone that goes something like this?

You: “Hey, how ya doing?”

Colleague or acquaintance: “Good. You?”

You: “Good, thanks. Have a good day.”

Colleague or acquaintance: “You too.”

These banal exchanges with the people around us are pretty much an auto-pilot kind of thing. We don’t give them much thought. And, if we’re being honest, the likelihood is neither you nor the other person is really all that interested in how the other is doing.

But these are far from normal circumstances. How someone around us is feeling suddenly seems a great deal more important.

It’s Sunday. We’re at the end of the first really full week of the coronavirus dominating our lives. 

It’s been a long week. It is astonishing how quickly things have developed,

Back on New Year’s Eve, when most of us were celebrating the dawn of both a new year and a new decade, the government in Wuhan, China, announced that health officials were treating dozens of cases of a new virus. Days later, the New York Times reported, researchers in that country identified the virus that became known as COVID-19. The Times story said there was no evidence at the time that the virus was readily spread by humans.

The first confirmed case in the United States came on Jan. 21 in Washington State. A man in his 30s had developed symptoms after returning from a trip to Wuhan. Collectively, most of us probably still didn’t see this as a big issue. If you hadn’t been to China or been with someone who had, you were good, right?

That hope, which turned out to be both foolish and short-lived, ended quickly. Now, about six weeks later, it’s pretty much all we’re thinking about. 

Here at The Daily Item, our news team’s focus has very much changed to make sure we keep you up to date on what seems to be almost hourly local developments. We will continue to do that however long this lasts. It is our goal to be whatever part of the solution to this issue that we can be.

We have established a coronavirus section on our website, where everything we publish (and have published) about the virus can be found.

We also have a new daily newsletter available that you can sign up for on our website. Once you do, a summary of the stories we’ve had in the previous 24 hours will arrive automatically in your email. 

We will continually seek out local health experts to give their perspectives and important updates. If you haven’t seen our “One on One” video interview with Dr. Stanley Martin, director of Geisinger’s Division of Infectious Diseases, it remains available on our site and is worth watching.

As recently as last week, some criticized the media for overstating the seriousness of this virus. Some probably may still think that, though for the life of me I can’t understand how.

I can promise you we will use all of our resources to provide you with the most accurate, locally-focused reporting on this issue possible. 

If you have questions you’d like us to try to answer or virus-related issues you want us to address, let me know.

And the next time someone asks how you’re doing,  here’s hoping the thoughtful, honest answer can continue to be “fine.”

Email comments to dlyons@dailyitem.com.

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