Essential reporting in volatile times.

Not a Subscriber yet? Click here to take advantage of All access digital limited time offer $13.95 per month EZ Pay.

Interested in Donating? Click #ISupportLocal for more information on supporting local journalism.


A sea change in day-to-day living has taken place in West Virginia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival here.

Despite the arcane stalling tactics President Donald Trump seems to have credited Gov. “Big Jim” Justice with developing and using to make West Virginia the last state in the nation to confirm a coronavirus case, the pandemic is here now, and it’s spreading.

Those not testing positive for, or presenting symptoms of, the disease have been told to stay at home. Those lucky enough to not be sick and still have jobs have been urged to work from home via laptop and make limited food and pharmacy runs.

Only those employed in what are deemed to be “essential” fields were given the option of working at their normal places of businesses. I was shocked to learn that newspaper reporters and other journalists are now regarded by the government as having an “essential” role in society, when only recently — say last week — we were called “enemies of the people” again by the commander in chief.

The list of “essential workers” included a few other occupations often looked down upon or maybe considered inessential by most in normal times.

In Texas, Cabela’s was ruled to be an essential business, since it supplied the public with dehydrated meals and a wide variety of jerky products, along with the gear needed to catch, process and cook fish. In Colorado and California, employees of recreational marijuana stores made the “essential workers” cut.

I assume workers in toilet paper mills nationwide are also considered essential. I know that’s how they are regarded at the Steelhammer Compound, where six double rolls of four-ply are all that stands in the way of a descent into a nightmare of poor choices and diminished comfort and hygiene.

Still, while the times may be turning a little dystopian and scary, some folks are making the best of them.

Last week, for instance, when San Francisco engineer Ian Chan ran out of toilet paper while heeding the call to shelter in place, his cross-town friend David Chen, came to the rescue. He piloted a drone packing a double roll of TP several miles across the city, narrowly avoiding an encounter with a curious seagull, to the roof of Chan’s building and a safe landing in his hands. A video of the last leg of the flight posted on Twitter logged more than 6 million views in a matter of days.

Things were a bit more down to Earth in Milwaukee, where shelter-in-place rules were also in effect. To fully heed social distancing standards while keeping things social, Eric Trzcinski decided to treat friend and across-the-street neighbor Trevor Reinke to a beer. He opened his garage door, set his remote-controlled car on the driveway, and sent it bobbing and weaving through traffic to the front of Reinke’s house, where he removed the brew from a newly rigged cargo hatch.

The brand?

Corona, of course.