By BOB WATSON
Every aspect of our daily lives is being impacted to an unimaginable degree by the global spread of the pandemic coronavirus COVID-19.
Streets are virtually deserted in our small towns of Mount Carroll, Savanna and the rest of the county, as we are instructed by the governor to shelter-at-home.
Restaurants and bars were ordered earlier to only offer pick-up, carry-outs and delivery, and many businesses and offices have temporarily closed their doors, no one knowing how long this will continue.
Schools are shut down until the end of March, but who doesn’t believe this closure will be required for a longer period of time?
All of these drastic actions, of course, are most certainly not an over-reaction in the nation and state’s expanding efforts to slow down this dreaded and fast-spreading illness.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mandatory order announced last Saturday instructing citizens to stay at home is to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and protect our family, friends, neighbors and others.
The order prohibits activities such as visiting the homes of friends and holding gatherings of any size, and closes all nonessential establishments, including most retail, recreation and entertainment businesses.
It does NOT prohibit essential activities such as going to the grocery store, buying gasoline, receiving medical care, going out for a walk, with or without your dog.
There’s a long list of businesses that are considered “essential” that may remain open. The “media” are on that list of essential businesses. This small town weekly newspaper editor-publisher certainly agrees that the media are essential, for many reasons.
But that designation does not necessarily mean the Mirror-Democrat and Times-Journal will be able to continue publishing uninterrupted during these uncertain times. There is a significant concern, taking all the business closures into consideration, that there will be a drastically reduced amount of advertising revenue, the lifeblood of any newspaper.
Fixed overhead costs for our small newspapers include hefty weekly printing and mailing costs, along with all the other expenses that go along with operating any business.
And certainly with the temporary halt of all governmental meetings — city councils, school boards, county boards — along with no high school sports and other extra-curricular activities along with community events, it will be rather challenging to fill our pages with the quality grassroots journalism readers have enjoyed for decades.
All this is to say that the current health dilemma facing everyone and how we are trying to combat it may prompt the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat and Savanna Times-Journal, along with our companion shopper, the Northwestern Illinois Dispatch, to temporarily suspend publication. In fact, this may very be the last issue you will be reading for a while.
It’s a challenging and emotional decision we’re considering, one that we’ve been pondering and anguishing over for a while. It will impact our dedicated and talented employees along with our loyal subscribers and advertisers.
Who knows how long the government mandated stay-at-home requirements along with business closings will continue. Those factors and many other issues will play a role in our final decision.
It’s imperative that all of us do our part to follow the orders and guidelines to reduce the spread of the illness and turn the corner on this devastating virus.