I'm writing this on Tuesday, the day Mayor Strickland's "shelter in place" edict goes into effect. It's the city's latest step in trying to "flatten the curve" of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Shelter in place means, basically, that we all stay home, or at least avoid other people as much as possible. And if we encounter others, we should keep a six-foot distance. You can take walks or jog, you can work in your yard, you can pick up that guitar that's been moldering in a case for four years. You name it, homeboy. And you can read this week's cover story for all kinds of good ideas on how to pass the time creatively while ensconced in your domicile.
If you do have to go out to a store or to other public venues, it's a good idea to wear a mask, at least it is according to the information I just got from physician and city councilman Jeff Warren. Warren asked me to tell Flyer readers that if you're in a high-risk group (a senior or with underlying health issues), if you have a fever or "vague symptoms with an unclear cause," or if you've been exposed to anyone with fever or symptoms, wear a mask of some sort when you go into a public space. Warren said even a bandana or scarf can help reduce exposure to others. So be advised. It sure can't hurt.
Meanwhile, during his daily press conference — performance art? — on Monday evening, President Trump made it clear that he wanted to end public measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 as soon as April 12th — Easter — in order to revive the tanking economy. This flies in the face of all legitimate medical thinking and all evidence from other countries who've been dealing with this disease.
But we shouldn't be surprised, really. It's just the latest version of the ongoing political sideshow called "science versus ideology." This variation could also be called "your money or your life," in which the GOP tries to come up with the ROI for the number of Americans we're willing to sacrifice in order to fix the stock market. Republican governors in Mississippi, Texas, and Florida, to name three, have all declined to take any significant steps to reduce the public's exposure. The GOP is betting your life (or your grandmother's or your diabetic sister's) on Trump's belief that COVID-19 will magically disappear by Easter, despite overwhelming evidence from around the globe that it's just getting started. Farewell, Dr. Fauci. We hardly knew ye.
On that note, I've got some updates from the control tower here at the Flyer. If you're reading this in the print version, you'll notice the paper is thinner than usual — 24 pages. That's because the calendar and After Dark events and music listings are gone, as are the advertisers who support them — and us. There's no getting around it — like most small businesses right now, the Flyer is taking a huge financial hit.
We are working to adjust a decades-old business model at breakneck speed. This week, because of the many closed businesses, community centers, libraries, etc., we printed a substantially smaller number of papers. We're out there, but we're harder to find. Like paper towels. In the interim, I suggest you join us at memphisflyer.com on a regular basis. We post and update numerous stories throughout the day. And every Wednesday we publish an ISSUU version of the print paper that replicates exactly what you see in print, including the ads (which you can click on).
As of this writing, we are still determining what makes sense going forward. Options include migrating to digital-only for a while, printing every other week, and/or continuing to print a lesser number of papers each week. We'll keep you informed, regardless of what we decide.
Meanwhile, please consider clicking the Frequent Flyer link (Support Us) on our website and joining the hundreds of Memphians who support us with a modest monthly contribution, or who have chosen to make one-time contributions. We welcome whatever support you are able to provide. Also on our website, you can sign up for our newsletters. And please follow us on Twitter, IG, and Facebook. We want to stay in touch.
Finally, our thanks to everyone who has stepped up to support the Flyer financially in recent days. We're humbled by and grateful for your generous response. We'll do everything in our power to continue sharing news, information, and opinions with you — now and after we all emerge from these difficult times.