By Mark J. Valentino, Editor and Publisher
First and foremost, as you read this, all of us here at Gazette Chicago sincerely hope and pray that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.
This may be the understatement of the year, but a lot has happened in the last two months.
The March primary election seems in the distant past—actually, what happened yesterday seems to be in the distant past—as everything we hear, do, or are concerned about related to the COVID-19 pandemic (coronavirus) overwhelms us and seems to change by the hour.
New three-word phrases have entered our daily vocabulary:
“Flattening the curve.”
“Shelter in place.”
“Stay at home.”
“Work from home.”
“Essential workers only.”
I couch what I am sharing with you by saying this message is being written a week prior to our publication date of April 3 (our print schedule is a seven-day process), and I am not exactly sure when or how Gazette Chicago will reach you this month due to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “shelter in place” order to help flatten the curve of the coronavirus in Illinois by keeping our social distancing through April 7, at the minimum.
A call to help one another
Please join us in thinking about, praying for, and supporting (in a safe way) all those affected by the coronavirus: for those who have died here in Illinois, across the United States, and around the globe, and their loved ones; for those who are suffering from the coronavirus at this time and their loved ones; for the real heroes during this crisis—the front-line healthcare workers and first responders—many of whom are working long shifts with scarce amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE); for more of these urgently needed medical supplies and ventilators for those critically ill patients needing respiratory support; for the workers in the entire food and medical supply chain, from farmers to grocery store workers and those across the country rushing to make PPEs; for our governmental leaders to come together to help bring the aid and leadership so sorely needed at this critical time in our history; and for all who are afraid, in isolation, and are struggling with food and medical shortfalls.
Look out for one another. Stay in constant touch with your family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Bring them food and medicine if they need it. Just a call will lift a spirit and keep others going. Make the effort to have them hear your voice—instead of a text or an Instagram message—as a personal touch also is desperately needed at this time.
Console a younger person who may not get to enjoy her or his senior prom or graduation or college seniors and postgrads who were looking forward to their commencements. They still have achieved a lot these past four years—let them know you are proud of them and that you love them.
Please also consider donating blood—we are facing a critical shortage due to the “shelter in place” orders in Illinois and in other states highly affected by the coronavirus. It is safe to donate. Elsewhere in this issue, we offer you ways to be a blood donor (see our resource guide on page 15 and the Around the Neighborhood section, beginning on page 16).
There is a lot to pray and advocate for as these may be the most challenging times many of us have ever experienced—especially those of us too young to recall the shared sacrifices made during World War II and the anxiety and turmoil caused by that worldwide conflict.
Time to heal the political divide
Sadly and tragically, even the coronavirus pandemic divides us politically. Instead of rallying together and using the ingenuity, passion, and compassion that Americans have been known for ever since accepting the role of world leader at the end of World War II—and how we would always proudly bring these traits to the table in times of crisis—we once again find ourselves stuck in the muck of political divide. This is nonsense and it has wasted valuable time. When dealing with a virus like this, time is the one commodity we cannot afford to squander. Yet, here in the United States, we have done so, hour after hour, day after day.
Instead, we need to use every waking moment to face the coronavirus head-on by expanding our PPE and ventilator supply chain; increasing the number of hospital beds in overwhelmed communities by using dormant buildings and erecting field hospitals; supporting our pharmaceutical companies to rush to find a vaccine; and providing much needed financial aid to individuals and small businesses and in some cases large corporations severely affected by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
As Gazette Chicago went to press, many of these things had occurred or were coming into focus—but the struggle to get there was lagging and unfortunate. We simply cannot come together anymore—unlike other countries that left their political discourse at the door. How very, very sad, and what does this portend for our future?
It was good to see a bipartisan U.S. Senate come together and pass the record $2 trillion stimulus bill—how we will pay for it is a matter for another day. Yet, it remains disconcerting when we have leaders at the highest level of government balking at the science in front of them; when we have members of the U.S. Senate seemingly more intent on bolstering Wall Street and creating a slush fund for big donors and large corporations than saving lives; and when we have a White House and Federal agencies moving agonizingly slowly while governors in heavily affected areas plead for support.
While we are praying for those individually who are struggling under the burden of this pandemic, let’s also bow our heads and ask the God we turn to, to help mend this country. We hope that some day soon the coronavirus will be behind us, yet the cancer that is eating away at America will be with us as long as we continue to wage political and ideological battles. Red state versus Blue state—is this really what should consume us, especially now? We need to closely examine how we got here and find out how we can get out of this quagmire, or this country will not survive what might be around the bend. And, there is always something around the bend.
A thank you to Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot have made some really difficult decisions the last several weeks. Decisions that some will argue have severely hampered our economy, businesses, and families. Yet everything they did in Chicago and across Illinois to flatten the curve was done with the best intentions. Time is at an essence when fighting a pandemic, but analysis and data will show that their bold actions helped save lives. Closing schools, bars, and restaurants and curtailing our daily activity were not easy decisions. We join in our concern for all of you out there hurt by this economic disruption. As we have said many times, small businesses are the lifeblood of Gazette Chicago; we, too, are a small business. As we seek to find the light at the end of this dark tunnel, try to support your local businesses by ordering some take out food for lunch or dinner or patronizing your neighborhood coffee shop, drycleaners, and other local firms.
A call for you to help us—please sign up for our E-Edition version
This is a small request at a time when much larger pleas need to be answered. As I write to you, we are working very hard to figure out how to distribute our April 3 edition. Somehow, some way, we will get the important news of this community out to you as best we can as we all face the incredible challenges of the coronavirus crisis. It may be in print, it may be online through our E-Edition; it most likely will be a combination of both. Many of our normal delivery drop-off locations may be closed this month, or their hours may be greatly curtailed.
We strongly encourage you to sign up today for your free subscription and join the hundreds of readers who have already subscribed to our E-edition version.
By doing so, you will be guaranteed to have Gazette Chicago delivered right to your desktop computer, laptop, or mobile de-vice. You can read the paper at your leisure, all with a click of your mouse or a swipe of your mobile phone. And, you will never have to leave the comfort or wellbeing of your own home.
To sign up, just go to: eedition.gazettechicago.com.
One final note
All of us at Gazette Chicago thank you for the many ways you have shown your support for community journalism after we launched our Go Fund Me effort in February. From your donations to our Go Fund Me site; to sending donations through the mail; to the kind and supportive words you sent our way. We are grateful, so very grateful!
At this time, I ask that you not make your Go Fund Me donation to Gazette Chicago.
Instead, please direct your generosity to Go Fund Me sites that are directly helping people or support the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Catholic Charities, the National Nurses Association, and many others can do good with your support.
Let’s join together to get through this crisis and come out of this a better, stronger local and global community.
All of us here at Gazette Chicago are thinking and praying for you. Stay safe! Stay healthy!