I never imagined I would be writing this column or reaching out in this moment of pandemic to thank our members for making the work we do possible.
Yet here we are, each day so different than the last one. One evident truth: Just as you need fair and honest reporting during this time of confusion, we need your support to sustain it.
At the Rivard Report, we believe a well informed and connected community is essential to making San Antonio a better place. Our readers are benefitting from an extraordinary effort by our reporters, photographers, and editors.
My colleagues are carrying out their work at considerable personal sacrifice as they document the coronavirus pandemic and its unprecedented impact on life in San Antonio – working long hours and deferring their own personal needs and plans. No one has lost their sense of humor judging by the traffic in our internal chat rooms.
In a world of Zoom videoconferencing and Slack messaging, our team has been working remotely since last week and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Working remotely helps people stay healthy and allows them to tend to families and themselves, but it doesn’t mean working less.
Each person on our small, dedicated team has his or her own story.
One notable exception to our mostly remote staff is Roseanna Garza, our health reporter, who has been on the reporting frontlines documenting every stage of the virus’s local impact. On Monday, Garza battled a slight fever, and her temperature was checked three times as a news conference – where officials announced new measures to slow the coronavirus spread – was underway.
Eventually, a second and then third check showed a temperature below the 100.4-degree threshold, and she was allowed in to conduct her reporting. Her symptoms, however, are not consistent with COVID-19.
Four of my colleagues have small children at home and spouses experiencing work disruptions.
Others have children away at college, posing long-distance family challenges. Shari Biediger, our business reporter, has an adult daughter who is in isolation in New York City. Wendy Lane Cook, our deputy managing editor, has a daughter at Florida State University caught between campus and home, staying temporarily with friends.
A number of us are caring for elderly family members who are particularly vulnerable at this time.
Bonnie Arbittier, one of our two photographers, learned Sunday that a best friend from high school tested positive for coronavirus in San Francisco last week.
Elizabeth Nelson, a graduating Trinity University senior and Rivard Report intern on our nonprofit business team, has seen one post-graduate internship disappear and now fears she might not get to experience the joy of her graduation ceremony.
Lindsey Carnett, our tech reporter, was scheduled to go to Houston this weekend to watch her best friend’s Match Day ceremony where graduating physicians learn where they will serve their residency. That has been canceled.
Journalists need to go grocery shopping, too, a time-consuming task because of unnecessary public panic. There is no need to hoard. San Antonio is home to H-E-B, one of the most community-minded businesses in the country. They will find ways to keep the shelves stocked.
Some of us, like you, fall sick, but we are still working. Scott Ball, our photo editor and the second-longest serving employee on our team, felt unwell all last week, but you wouldn’t know it looking at his work output.
On Friday, my family physician sent me to Metropolitan Methodist Emergency Center at Quarry Village after I came down with flu-like symptoms, despite having received my flu shot months ago. I don’t have to tell you what I feared I had contracted at age 67.
Tests showed I had contracted human metapneumovirus (HMPV), which was first seen in 2001, a virus I had never heard of until this weekend. It feels like pneumonia. It’s led me to quarantine at home and keep my distance from other family members.
My family would feel a lot better if I also had tested negative for COVID-19, but neither my family physician nor Methodist has access to test kits. I was told I didn’t meet the minimum requirements for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District to test me.
“Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That’s what the bottom line is,” Trump told reporters at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 7, according to the official White House transcript of the press conference. Gov. Greg Abbott said as much during his San Antonio visit on Monday.
That is not true. I don’t write that to bash the president or the governor, but to state how important it is to have fact-based reporting on government efforts to protect people. Testing capacity locally and nationally is improving, at best, at a snail’s pace. CDC leaders believe there currently are as many as 10 undiagnosed cases for every identified case in the United States due to the lack of testing capacity.
Garza and other members of our reporting staff will continue to hold these officials to account and inform San Antonians during this extraordinary moment in history.
The good work she and others are doing here merits an appreciation on my part and, I would argue, yours. I have worked in many newsrooms over my long career, but I’ve never worked in a more dedicated one than now.
We are mission-driven at the Rivard Report. We are a nonprofit and depend on the generosity and support of our members to do our work. Now is the time to help sustain it.
Keep us strong and healthy. Join as a member today at whatever level is comfortable in these trying times.