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Connection with people missed during pandemic

Connection with people missed during pandemic
Connection with people missed during pandemic
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor

If you’re reading this, congratulations. You join me more than 365 days after the coronavirus changed the world as we once knew it.

As with all things in life, what has occurred since March of 2020 has impacted each of us to various degrees, ranging from being mildly inconvenienced to losing a loved one to COVID-19.

I recently reflected on the past year while searching for entries for the Hoosier State Press Association Better Newspaper Contest, an annual event that, like so many other things, was canceled last year due to the pandemic. The contest period included nearly 11 months prior to COVID-19 as well as almost 10 months of the pandemic, so the contrast was reflected over 88 weeks.

The first mention of the virus in this newspaper was in the Feb. 12, 2020, issue, prior to any confirmed cases in Harrison County. A month later, we had our second story, as Indiana began to see people test positive for the virus. I don’t believe there has been a week since where COVID-19 hasn’t been part of some story we’ve published.

I recall how challenging it was at times to produce the newspaper week after week with so many local events canceled. There was a sense of depression for some as people’s lives were impacted by what was transpiring. In the April 8 issue, we reported the first death of a local resident from the virus. There have been 71 more since then.

As someone who continued to go to work every day, I knew, despite the doom and gloom people were hearing from the national news, there were good things happening. We are resilient; sometimes we just need to be made aware of encouraging stories.

That’s why it was important to me to offer hope to those who were perhaps looking for it, especially to those people who were keeping more secluded from the world around them. So, in addition to stories in the newspaper, I was adding content daily to our websites under the heading Moments of Sharing, to let people know there were those who were doing what they could to help others. So many of those Moments involved our dedicated health care workers who were tasked with caring for the ill while risking exposure to the virus, as well as people who were showing appreciation to those employees for what they were doing. There were also examples of children lending a hand, some by sewing masks and others donating needed supplies.

Since March 27, 2020, at the end of each day, I have jotted down in a notebook the places I went to as well as the people I came in close contact with. The purpose of this exercise was in case I was diagnosed with the virus and needed to provide information for contact tracing.

Now that I’ve had the first dose of the vaccine, with the second one scheduled for April 1, it’s beginning to look like I’m in the clear. I also never developed any symptoms of COVID-19 that required me to be tested for the virus.

What I notice from my daily log book as well as the newspapers since a year ago is the lack of everyday interaction with people.

I miss meeting with high school students who participate in our Linked! school publication. Those who wrote for the paper during the 2019-20 school year submitted their last two articles while completing the school year virtually. I have not met this school year’s participants in person but have a connection with them only through emails and the articles they submit.

In-person programming at the Harrison County Public Library and productions by talented persons at Hayswood Theatre in Corydon were noticeably absent by me in the past 12 months. Recently, the library began some in-person activities, while requiring the wearing of masks and socially distancing, and the theatre is planning a recap next month of some of its shows from the 2019-20 season as well as a celebration of its 50th season later in the year.

The lack of reports of the ongoings by 4-H members, Homemakers clubs, Corydon Women’s Literary Club and other similar groups indicates how they chose to forgo meeting at the height of the pandemic.

With the 2020 spring sports season canceled, it was nice to welcome back local sports, albeit different with a limited number of spectators, when the 2020-21 school year began.

As we continue to put this pandemic behind us, I am eager for this newspaper to resume its coverage of all the events and activities that make Harrison County a wonderful place to live, work and play. I also look forward to seeing you in person again.

Most of all, I appreciate you, our readers, for sticking with us during this unprecedented time in our lives. I hope you know how important you are to us.