Soapbox: Our editors' advice on the COVID-19 pandemic
Seventh in an Opinion series
Keep this going
COVID-19 put the brakes on industrial emissions, improved air quality, gave some ecosystems a breather and got more of us outdoors to appreciate our slightly less polluted world. Let's build on this silver lining as we move forward out of the pandemic.
-- Diane Dungey, Senior Deputy Managing Editor
Saving the vulnerable
The sheer number of deaths in elderly communities in the first wave is what struck me. While it's true COVID-19 can fell anyone, the reality is the Illinois death rate is less than 1% for people under 29. Let us strive to do more to protect the elderly in 2021.
-- James Kane, Deputy City Editor
Getting around when we can get around
A lot of reports say the pandemic fueled an exodus from the cities to the suburbs. Our traffic has seemed lighter during the pandemic -- but there's still plenty of it. What will happen when our lives are more normal? Will we want to deal with traffic jams again? Can we reduce them?
-- Neil Holdway, Assistant Managing Editor/Copy Desk
Sadly, the public is at cross-purposes
The pandemic is full of stories of not only extreme generosity, but also extreme selfishness. We've seen heroic efforts from doctors and nurses, tireless devotion from food pantry volunteers, and even creative compassion from elementary school students. But for all the people who work for the public good, there seem to be plenty of others who ignore the science, flout the rules and put the rest of us at risk.
-- Michelle Holdway, News Editor
A costly missed opportunity
Although not yet personally infected, I have had closer brushes with the ravages of COVID-19 this year than I ever want to repeat. Yet, one of my greater sorrows is the toll the virus has taken on our social and political relationships. Would that we could have taken this opportunity to present a unified front against a common enemy.
-- Jim Slusher, Deputy Managing Editor for Opinion
While we all wished we could fast-forward through the pandemic, COVID-19 had other ideas. But as we navigated the loss and isolation, we learned to embrace simpler pleasures -- families rediscovered jigsaw puzzles, couples strolled suburban forest preserves and friends connected at low-key socially distanced backyard gatherings. May 2021 be better. But may we carry 2020's lessons with us always.
-- Lisa Friedman Miner, Metro Editor
Hail essential workers
Who are essential workers? Health care workers, teachers, cops and firefighters, grocery workers and more. When you think about who has kept us going during COVID-19, the list grows. So, too, does our admiration for how hard they work and how dedicated they are. We cannot lose sight of how important they are to us.
-- Pete Nenni, Deputy Managing Editor
Thanks for books
If there's one thing the pandemic has provided, it's more time to read. I've found myself scouring my bookcase for books I read years ago and reading them again. New books have become relevant again as well. Staying at home for hours on end isn't fun for anyone, but rediscovering the joy of reading has definitely been worth it.
-- John Radtke, High School Sports Editor
Families with multiple children in need of home schooling might disagree, but I've seen the pause in business-as-usual as an opportunity to reconnect with family. Sometimes, we get so busy that it's a race just to get to the end of the day, just to wake up and start over again. With working at home, I've enjoyed greater togetherness with my wife, and it's also given me the time and desire to connect with far-flung relatives on video chats and phone calls.
-- Jim Baumann, Managing Editor.
Remembering the bad and the good
My brother and his family contracted COVID-19 and survived. My mother, in her 80s, was tested twice and escaped harm. My cousin, a doctor at a suburban hospital, remains on the front line. An aunt and an uncle lost their battles with COVID-19. Be grateful for your family and for your health.
-- Mike Smith, Sports Editor
Weekends weren't the same
The wave of canceled and postponed fairs and festivals changed how many of us spent our free time in 2020. Who would have thought there would be a year without Lisle's Eyes to the Skies festival, Naperville's Last Fling and other popular local events? Hopefully, we won't have to wait another year for them to return.
-- Robert Sanchez, Deputy City Editor
Prioritizing mental health
"It's OK to not be OK." One of the positives to come out of the pandemic is the increased focus on mental health issues, especially for teens and children. The stress of quarantine and remote learning has been difficult for kids of all ages to cope with. In my experience, health care professionals now seem to be making mental health a priority during well-care checks. Let's hope this trend continues.
-- Caroline Linden, News Editor
Show your love ...
If you care about yourself, wear a mask. If you care about family and friends, where a mask. If you care about the people on the front lines, wear a mask. If you care about local merchants and restaurants, wear a mask. If you care about the community, wear a mask. It's not political. It's loving. If you care, wear a mask.
-- John Lampinen, Editor