This story has always been a daunting task.
When I first heard about COVID-19 – as it spread across Asia and Europe in the first few months of last year – I never thought it would dominate our lives.
It turned out to be one of the greatest stories of the century, and we tried to treat it that way at The Paducah Sun and its sister weeklies in the area.
For what seemed like weeks it was practically the only story. At the start of the pandemic, we would have a “coronavirus roundup” on the newspaper that would get the latest stats, closings and the latest news of the day from local health and government officials, but apparently everything we published had something to do with the virus to do.
Streamed government meetings became briefings to prevent its spread. If there was any business news, it was about compliance with COVID-19 health standards. Education coverage was essentially independent of whether a school had a virtual day or not. Covering the courts turned into a Zoom affair and virtually everything was canceled at some point.
We have published thousands of inches of stories about case numbers, test numbers and procedures, health practices, survival and death stories, troubled businesses, and people who help.
We wrote until we were tired of it. At times it felt like we were filling the paper with COVID-19 coverage, but to tell the truth, I’m not sure we did enough or ever could.
There is no way one story can sum up all of this for the area, or even for Paducah. I could interview three times as many people and the story (although it is very long in its current state) could never be long enough to really tell the story of what it was like to go through this pandemic. All I could do with this piece was try to live up to it.