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Our Opinion / HPR will only be distributed through Hornbacher’s grocery stores this week

Editorial | March 18th, 2020

photo by Colby Nelson

Not long ago, we did not have Coronavirus or Covid-19 in our vocabulary. Now our worlds have been changed. And that change is not stopping anytime soon, it would appear.

Most of us are in the same boat. Our businesses are in jeopardy. Our workers’ futures are uncertain as well. Our daily routines turned upside down. Our lives are at risk.

Since its start in September 1994, HPR has always had a calendar of events. This is what we are all about. Arts and entertainment. Telling people what to do for fun and culture. It’s the backbone of what we do.

This week there is no calendar. There are no events.

HPR is also connected at the hip to the restaurants and bars, the service industry. Not only are their business models in jeopardy, but the thousands of people who work for them are uncertain to say the least about their futures.

Mortgage and rent payments. Health insurance. Food and staples for the home. Gas money. Everything.

While the 1 percent are experiencing a collapse of their stock portfolios, our guess is they at least have ample funds to survive. We are not so assured for ordinary folks who barely have adequate savings to even address an unusual financial emergency of a few hundred dollars.

This week’s High Plains Reader will ONLY be distributed through high volume Hornbacher’s grocery stores. Hundreds upon hundreds of HPR outlets will not have our paper this week. We simply cannot be part of the problem by encouraging community spread of Covid-19.

And, speaking of Covid-19, ND is up to six cases as of this writing. The emergency is lapping at our doorsteps, make no mistake.

Since HPR’s start a quarter of a century ago, we’ve survived a few catastrophic events, floods especially. Just after we purchased the Reader in December of 1997, our world was turned upside down when our Grand Forks based biweekly newspaper had no home. The Flood of ’97 wiped out our everything. No advertisers. No distribution to speak of. No nothing. We, however, survived by moving HPR to Fargo.

This time around, with Covid-19, we don’t really have a place to move. We don’t have alternative advertisers lined up. We don’t have many restaurants and bars and cultural events to promote. We only have each other.

Yes, this week there will be a paper. Next week, unlikely but we’ll keep you posted.

Meantime, hunker down. Do the basics to self-protect. Stay home. Pretend it’s a couple week blizzard, ok?

As much as we’ve been cynical of the world becoming so connected by cell phones and online chatting and texting, this may turn into a blessing. People can facetime. They can communicate in ways previously unimaginable. They can break the silence of boredom by reaching out and connecting.

North Dakota has always been a natural social distancing sort of place. Our people are spread out in many rural parts and there’s a mixed blessing in that today.

Regardless, though, we have folks close to us who are at risk. The aged. The infirm and unhealthy. The immunocompromised. The people in the front lines battling this novel virus. The doctors, nurses, ambulance and fire personnel, our police and our public health people.

Let’s watch out for each other. Share that extra toilet paper if your neighbor has none! The same with your food stock.

Ordinarily, we would tell everyone to give lots of hugs. Even that has changed.

Instead, count your blessings and take stock in the abundance we have despite these challenges. Things could be far worse and we pray it does not get worse here or anywhere.

Good speed! Take care. We will get through this.

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