This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

Coronavirus resources: CDC on the coronavirus, Oregon Health Authority resources, Washington County resources, Oregonian reporting on the coronavirus, OPB glossary of coronavirus terms, NYTimes free reporting on the coronavirus

Today, the World Health Organization confirmed a fact that health professionals the world over have been saying: The coronavirus and the illness it causes, named COVID-19, has become a pandemic.

In an address to the nation, President Donald Trump announced a 30-day travel ban on most travel from Europe in an effort to stem the virus’ progress, but make no mistake: the coronavirus is present and growing in the U.S., in Oregon, and in Washington County, which has 8 of the 19 presumed positive cases in the state. 

In light of this, our underlying website provider has built a way for us to turn off our two website paywalls at galescreekjournal.com and bankspost.com, which we will be doing for all coronavirus-related articles moving forward. 

You can see these articles by looking for a small green box that says “Free” above the article headline.

We are a very small newsroom; we are funded largely through reader support, but it is important in serious situations like this that we as a community pull together to support each other. 

Now is the time for clear-eyed, calm action. This pandemic is serious. But it is also manageable. 

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Some of our readers have been skeptical of how dangerous COVID-19 is, comparing it to a seasonal flu.

It’s important to note that the flu is a serious illness that kills tens of thousands annually, with some seasonal flu strains worse than others. 

According to the New York Times, on average, the seasonal flu kills 0.1 percent of those who become infected. 

So far, the limited data available regarding the coronavirus indicates it could be more lethal and more contagious than this year’s strain of the flu. 

In an editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of the CDC and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. H. Clifford Lane of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, they argue that the death rate could be below 1 percent, which is closer to, say, a severe seasonal flu. 

Much remains to be learned about this new illness, according to those who study it. So far, the young, fit and healthy can often weather the virus, but it is more dangerous to those who 65 and older, or have chronic illnesses or a weakened immune system.

In fact, most who contract the virus will have mild symptoms, and most will not require hospitalization. 

We’re a very small newspaper. One of the smallest in the state. To make sure you have access to valuable and accurate information, we’ll be sharing links on a regular basis in any coronavirus-related article from our peers at larger news organizations that we trust. You can find those at the top of each coronavirus-related article moving forward, along with links to web pages maintained by the Centers for Disease Control, the Oregon Health Authority, and Washington County’s Department of Health and Human Services. 

We also need your help reporting the facts in our region about impacts being felt by community members. 

Have your travel, business, education, or other plans been changed by the coronavirus? Is your organization, workplace, church, or club canceling or altering events because of the coronavirus? Please let us know so we can get the word out. 

We can be reached at [email protected], [email protected], or by phone at 503-395-8131. Please leave a message if I don’t pick up right away. 

Gales Creek, Banks, Timber, Buxton, Roy, Manning, Glenwood, Hillside, and the surrounding communities are home to a resilient, resourceful group of people. In my work as a journalist, I’ve heard time and time again from emergency preparedness experts that rural communities are often more prepared for a natural disaster than many other regions, and I firmly believe that is true. 

Look out for one another, help your neighbors, and we’ll weather this as gracefully as a community can. 

Yours truly, Chas Hundley, publisher, editor, journalist, delivery guy, janitor, etc