Growing up in Idaho, there have been so many crises around the country and the world that I’ve heard about but been sheltered from. Tornadoes, tsunamis, viral outbreaks. Even with massive forest fires in neighboring areas, the only impact I felt was the smoke in the air and restrictions to campsites.
This outbreak is the first in my adult life to really touch close to home and directly impact things I know and love. The first being Treefort’s cancellation. Then trips to visit family called off. Not seeing co-workers for days and maybe weeks. Going straight home at night after work instead of meeting up with a friend or catching a concert at Pengilly’s. Seeing my toilet paper stash dwindle to two rolls and starting to feel kind of nervous about that.
I’m thankful our community is taking proactive steps to curb this thing, not out of panic, but out of an effort to slow the spread so we don’t get into a situation where our hospitals are overwhelmed.
The people who are most on my mind are parents of young children, teachers, health care workers and those in the food and entertainment industries. It’s been cool to see people online give ideas for how to support local businesses and nonprofits during this time — buy food to-go, get a gift card for later, donate. I’ve also been touched to see a few of my friends offering up their home as a place for kids whose parents need to work. On the business side, Idaho Commerce and the Idaho Office of Emergency Management are working to secure federal economic injury disaster loan assistance for small businesses impacted by the outbreak.
At the Idaho Press, we want to be here for you as a resource. Every day we’re adding updates to our roundup of COVID-19 news, and we’ve started another story just focused on local resources such as food banks and child care. You can find this coverage under the red “Coronavirus” tab on our home page at idahopress.com.
I know during times like this it’s easy for misinformation and fear to spread. We and other local news outlets are working together to bring clear, factual information to as many people as possible. It’s been cool to see the teamwork. Many of us who have a paywall, meaning we charge for online stories after a certain limit, are offering all local coronavirus coverage free of charge. The Idaho Statesman is producing informative articles in Spanish and sharing them with other outlets. At the Idaho Press we’ve created a community Facebook group to help connect local needs with resources (you can join at Idaho Press Community Group: COVID-19 Resources). Other groups of support have popped up, too. I never expected in 2020 to see a Nampa Facebook group formed so people could share rolls of toilet paper, but here we are.
School districts, Boys & Girls Clubs, Meals on Wheels and others continue to play a crucial role, setting up curbside meals to go for families. Businesses have also been amazing. Andrade’s Restaurante Mexicano in Boise is offering to help families who rely on school lunches or people who lose their jobs. “As long as I have food in my kitchen I will feed you no charge,” owner Javier Andrade posted online. “If you are in a position to help me continue to assist in feeding our community please (private message) me with your ideas. We are in this together.”
Boise Co-Op and Ridley’s Family Markets are opening their stores at 8 a.m. and 6 a.m., respectively, only to seniors for the first hour of shopping. Food delivery and/or curbside pickup is available at local grocery stores such as Albertsons, the Co-Op, Fred Meyer and Walmart. Messenger Pizza in Nampa is offering carryout only and has a food delivery service.
“This was a hard decision to make!” Messenger posted to Facebook on Monday. “But we want to kick this pandemic in the butt. The sooner we take precaution, the sooner we can all get back to the grind stone.”
Emotional and mental health are also important during this time. I’ve been trying to keep a positive outlook, telling myself to use this as a time to slow down, read more, cook more, do more yoga and go on more hikes. But as the days go by and the closures and cancellations continue, I feel a nervousness in my chest, and some grief at the loss of in-person connections. This week I couldn’t join my parents for our annual St. Paddy’s dinner. My brother’s family likely won’t visit for Easter, and a trip I had planned to see my closest friend is likely not going to happen.
I know these concerns can’t compare to the stress of job insecurity or loss of child care, but maybe some of you out there are facing the same ache. I think a lot of it is just not knowing how long this will continue. It’s easier to endure something unpleasant when you know where the finish line is.
In this time of uncertainty, we at the Idaho Press will continue to be here for you. Yes, our pages do have a ton of coronavirus coverage, which I’m sure we’re all a bit exhausted by at this point. But this is the story of our time, and it’s important to share this information. We also hope you’ll take solace in our other coverage — the beautiful features by Community Editor Jeanne Huff that always make me laugh and often bring me to tears; our columns by Mike Prater, Tim Woodward and others; our daily puzzles and Lazy Sunday (I love the crosswords); our Outdoors section for ideas of other ways you can be active during this time. And our coverage of the local community and the Legislature continues (God bless our state reporter Betsy Russell, that woman has a well of stamina and energy that I’ll never understand). And this week, I hope you didn’t miss reporter Erin Bamer’s important coverage of Caldwell City Council’s revision of city code so we don’t have another runoff election debacle like we saw in November (remember that? Feels like a year ago). I’m really proud of how all our reporters have stepped up and are working together, and our sports department’s creative coverage after everything got canceled.
Through all this, I’m so thankful for you readers. Thank you for valuing local journalism, supporting what we do and making this work possible.
The Idaho Press is offering free online access to local coronavirus stories. Our ongoing coverage of the Treasure Valley relies on the generous support from our readers. To strengthen local journalism, please consider subscribing at iptoffers.com. For daily updates in your inbox, sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter.