At the Ark Valley Voice it’s our job to look at the spreading coronavirus pandemic with eyes wide open.

We can’t close our eyes – click our heels and like Dorothy, go home to Kansas. If we do, we might miss something that you all need to know. Journalists are considered essential services during emergencies and disasters. Our role is to seek out and report truth.

Often times, those truths are inconvenient – like asking the president what message he wants to give Americans, for whom fear is rising like bile at the back of our throats. On Friday, NBC journalist Peter Alexander threw the president what in journalism is called “a soft ball” – an opening for a leader to reassure us and sound presidential. That did not happen. The response from President Donald Trump was a vicious attack on the journalist who asked the question.

Facing the unvarnished truth can get overwhelming; as it has these past few weeks. We are all — this country, this world and humanity itself – being tested. The word ‘novel’ in front of the word ‘coronavirus’ explains why. The world has faced pandemics before, but not this virus. Not this challenge. There are no cures. There are no vaccines. Age actually doesn’t matter, nor does your bank account or your zip code. We are all in this together.

New Yorker Story Image  on the spread of COVID-19 (Illustration by Timo Lenzen)

As the virus became a global pandemic and continues to grow, there does not appear to be a country it will spare, a person who won’t be somehow touched. Against this backdrop, our country faces a three pronged crisis. It is a health crisis. It is an economic crisis. And it increasingly seems to be leadership crisis.

This week COVID-19 has spread across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It has quickly bumped Colorado into an unwelcome club; one of the top 10 states where it has been spreading fastest.

This week the stock markets convulsed and dropped like a rock; the worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.

This week we are witnessing some leaders failing to be leaders while some quiet, ordinary citizens become heroes. Thanks are due to the front lines: our local health department, our community’s medical professionals, our first responders. Thanks are due our local county and municipal leaders and elected officials, who almost overnight have moved our local government functions to virtual operating systems.

Thanks, now and throughout this emergency, should also go to the unsung heroes who are out there every day now; holding down the check-out lines, taking our cash and credit cards, restocking the shelves, filling our prescriptions, bringing us our carry-out orders, serving us.

The least we can all do is say “thank you”. The human thing to do is to be kind, be patient, understand that the stress we are feeling, they feel too. While the rest of us are practicing “social distancing’ at this point – these fellow Chaffee County neighbors are actually risking their health to be there doing their jobs, for all of us.

As this goes on, we are increasingly reporting on news and information affecting people we know. That is always the case with journalists – our role is to witness. Today though, we believe our role is also to reflect back the best in this county community. Eyes wide open, all of us can rise to this occasion. During dark days, we can be our best selves, and see the best in others as well.

From all of us at Ark Valley Voice, we’re all in this together.