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J. Mark Garber is the president of Pamplin Media Group.Many traditions have been altered beyond recognition this year as people adapt to the COVID-19 reality we all inhabit. Memorial Day gatherings, Fourth of July fireworks shows and Labor Day picnics all disappeared or were substantially limited by the virus. Here in the Portland area, we didn't get to attend the Rose Festival or any other massive in-person events that bring us together in celebration of a glorious Northwest summer.

But now, on the cusp of Halloween, we are staring into the dim face of perhaps the biggest challenge yet of 2020: How to commemorate the fall and winter holidays while coronavirus is surging again and the weather soon will force us to spend more time indoors. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day are touchstones in the annual rhythm of our lives. This year, however, the responsible advice is to avoid close interaction with anyone outside your household.

That kind of guidance can send people into something of a pre-grief state: already lamenting the loss of those activities they hold dearest. Personally, I feel sorrow for the months that my wife and I have been unable to hug our adult daughter, or the flights I could have taken to visit my 94-year-old mother. And I also realize that these stolen experiences won't return until sometime in 2021.

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But I heard a medical expert the other day who offered a different way to look at 2020 and the next few months in particular: Think of this as your "COVID Year." We all will look back on this, someday, and realize these were temporary sacrifices we made to save the lives of others. Life will become more normal, eventually.

So, Halloween is almost upon us, and as reported by the Pamplin Media Group and EO Media Group's Capital Bureau, the Oregon Health Authority recommends against traditional trick-or-treating.

As the article notes, the OHA already is cautioning people to avoid large Thanksgiving gatherings too.

These are hard messages to hear, but this is also the type of vital information the Pamplin Media Group provides to its readers every day. Whether it was the wildfires of September or the ongoing pandemic, our readers can trust what we publish. With so much disinformation swirling about online, people need to know — particularly during a pandemic — that they have a place to go for fact-based news.

In a way, local journalism is the last hope for such trusted media. I'm well aware that readers occasionally perceive bias in our reporting. But for the most part, we are giving you news — in print and online — that you can verify yourself if you really want to take the time. You can smell the smoke from the fires. You can recognize your neighbors in our pages as they describe how the coronavirus has affected their lives. You can drive the streets of your town and see which businesses are surviving and which are not.

When we stick to our core mission of community journalism, we give you the information you need to make the right decisions for you and your family, and we build a stronger community fabric by offering everyone a common set of facts to consider and act upon.

For Pamplin Media Group, this has been our "COVID Year" too. The pandemic and related recession have hurt us financially. Like other businesses — such as restaurants that have taken over sidewalks or placed their tables more than six feet apart — we've had to look for new ways to do business. A success story has been how you, our readers, have rallied to support us with subscriptions and outright donations.

We need that support to continue, so that we will be here to give you legitimate local news for decades to come — long after this COVID Year is a distant memory.

-J. Mark Garber


Pamplin Media Group

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