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From the publisher, part 1: Don't let fear of COVID-19 take over

The impact of the coronavirus, COVID-19, is unprecedented in my lifetime.
Capital 5 Dave Obee ¥ Editor-in-chief, Times Colonist

VKA-obee-520501_2.jpgThe impact of the coronavirus, COVID-19, is unprecedented in my lifetime. The virus is having a severe and detrimental effect on all of us, even though — as I write this — there has only been one confirmed case on Vancouver Island, and one death in all of Canada.

Let’s hope that the infection numbers stay low, because personal health needs to be our top priority. We can all take basic steps to prevent the spread of the disease and reduce our personal risk. Most employers have brought in measures to protect their staff members and their clients or customers.

It’s possible that the negative economic impact of COVID-19 will last for many months after the health dangers have passed. The cancellations of events and concerts are obvious examples, but the impact on our economy could have serious consequences. Just as we all need to try to protect the personal health of those around us, we should all do our best to ensure that local businesses recover as quickly as possible.

Many stores and restaurants are reporting drastic drops as people try to stay safe. The irony is that most locally owned stores are smaller than the big-box ones, where large crowds gather in search of toilet paper and bottled water; the smaller outlets have fewer customers, so are likely pose a much lower risk.

These local stores and restaurants, owned by your friends and neighbours, rely on their customers to stay in business. If this downturn lasts for more than a few weeks, some of them will be in serious trouble, and some might not even survive. They need your support.

> Part 2: The impact of COVID-19

We will always urge everyone to be careful, be cautious, and be aware of the health risks that are out there. But let’s not let fear destroy what we have come to treasure. We have created a strong community, and we can weather this storm. To do that, however, we need to pull together.

The impact of COVID-19 is reaching every corner of our economy, and so far, we are all losing. Consider the people who work for airlines or for other tourism-related companies; consider the people who live from payday to payday and will soon be out of work. They will soon be seeking help.

Consider the many charity events, or public-participation events. The cancelled TC10K and the postponed Times Colonist Book Drive are just two that come to mind. Events such as these, among many others, are at the heart of what makes our community what it is. Once the coronavirus crisis passes, as it will, we will have a lot of catching up to do.

Through this crisis, the Times Colonist will continue to provide a service to our readers and advertisers. You might see fewer pages for a while, given that so many events have been cancelled and sports seasons suspended, but our goal is to be here six days a week, with our website updated regularly seven days a week.

We are proud to be part of life on Vancouver Island. In our 161 years of publishing, we have reported on many downturns and crises, and we have helped our community get through them all.

There is no question is that COVID-19 is a serious threat, possibly only matched by the flu epidemic in 1918 and 1919. Let’s be cautious, let’s be careful, but please, don’t let fear take over.

Let’s not make things worse.

Dave Obee,

Editor and Publisher

[email protected]