The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy that led to my temporary layoff from the News Advertiser on March 31 ended up being a contributing factor to being called back for some fill-in duty last week and this week.
You may have noticed some of my work on the pages of this publication in recent days, which will continue through the weekend as I’ll have coverage of Creston/O-M’s homecoming game Friday against Harlan.
We had some illness sweeping through the office and I was more than happy to help provide some of the coverage our readers are accustomed to during this period.
Life can change in a hurry when you’ve been laid off for more than five months. Last Wednesday afternoon I was enjoying the scenery and course challenges of Mozingo Lake Golf Course near Maryville, Mo.
About 24 hours later, I was in Red Oak for the Creston vs. Red Oak volleyball match. It was the first live event I had covered for the paper since the March 11 Creston/O-M wrestling banquet.
It was fun and a little exhilarating to be around competition again. I had almost forgotten how busy you can be when you track who’s in the photos you’re shooting on one reporter’s notebook, noting the play by play of the match on the steno pad, trying to anticipate to get decent action photos and then keeping fans updated on Twitter during pauses in the action. There isn’t much down time!
One thing I hadn’t considered was that breathing through a face mask while shooting photos can lead to the view finder fogging up, so sometimes I was almost shooting blind, hoping the auto-focus function was hitting on my target until I could wipe it clean again.
I was sure to check with Red Oak athletic officials, as well as the folks at Denison on Friday for the football game, on what their COVID-related policies were so I could comply. I was happy to see a majority of Creston fans adhering to what was requested, such as Denison asking everyone to wear a face covering while entering and exiting the facility, or when moving about within the facility when social distancing was more difficult.
Whatever your personal philosophy may be regarding masks, it just seems to be a common courtesy that Wayne and Mabel Peterson raised me to respect — do what the host requests while you are a guest somewhere. Or as dad would say, “Don’t be an ass.”
I noticed this week that the Iowa Department of Health has included the wearing of face masks as a factor in reducing the recommended quarantines required of those who are in contact with a positive COVID-19 case.
The state health department said close contacts of COVID-positive cases will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days if a face covering was consistently worn by both people during the exposure. (More incentive for fans seated closely at indoor events, especially!)
However, a face shield is not considered a face covering and quarantine is still required if one or both people were wearing a face shield only.
But, health officials say this doesn’t change the isolation requirements for people that are actually sick, or COVID-positive, to isolate from others.
That sounds like a decent measure to keep activities going and kids in the classroom, learning in person.
Something else struck me while working on the sideline in Denison Friday night. It’s really been cool to see how so many school officials, coaches, trainers and players have worked together to make activities viable during a global pandemic. All of the precautions and protocols are not easy and can probably feel like a nuisance.
But, you know what? I hear far less complaining about restrictions from the kids than from some adults, and we’re supposed to be the role models!
I think everyone is just relieved, and excited about having the opportunity to participate in something they enjoy, win or lose. So, the griping about losses or officials’ calls seems less than most years. We’re grateful to be there.
It’s been fun getting a chance to cover something again during these unusual circumstances. It’s reminded me how flexible and adaptable young people are in making the best of what’s given to them.
We’re all just surfing the uncertainty and hoping we can remain safe and healthy. I’m crossing my fingers that covering games in the fall of 2021 will seem much more “normal.”
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