COVID-19 in your hood: Your local newsweekly needs your support right now -- and you need them

As it turns out, there are various stages of following news during a crisis like coronavirus. There is salivating over every bit of information on the internet; followed by pretending that none of this is happening and watching The Price Is Right with all those people in the crowd and pretending that it is being recorded in front of a live studio audience; chased by wanting to know what the hell is going on, and realizing that your local radio and television newscasts are more or less complete trash.

We feel the same way. That’s why in times like these, we turn to more than 100 other weekly cousins across the US (and some other places) for critical info. United under the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) banner, we are survivors who are well equipped to cover this sort of complete mess. We are working class, we are on the ground, we are dating and related to those who are the most negatively impacted by COVID-19. A lot of DigBoston freelancers are among that extremely vulnerable population, financially and in some cases physically, as are many of our readers.

Whereas an hour spent watching some hothead pundit talk trash about our moron POTUS will likely leave you just as confused about the pandemic as you were when you tuned in, a survey of the excellent work being done by AAN outlets from coast to coast will open your eyes. From solutions that are being forged on the fly to critical medical and legislative stories, there’s more to learn in this trove than in any so-called major national publication.

If you notice something happening elsewhere that can be of help in New England, don’t hesitate to let your neighbors know. Things are moving fast, and it’s not like President Asshole has a team identifying best coronavirus practices across the country.

The Stranger (Washington)

Inslee and Durkan Address Washington State, Senate Approves Relief Package

There are now 1187 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington and 66 deaths, according to Wednesday’s update from the Washington Department of Health. That’s an increase of 175 cases and 14 deaths since Tuesday.

City Beat (Ohio)

Cincinnati Officials Unveil Plan for Those Experiencing Homelessness With Coronavirus Symptoms

Some Cincinnati Recreation Centers will be used to shelter those experiencing homelessness who are exhibiting possible COVID-19 symptoms. Hospitals and other healthcare providers will refer patients to the center.

Isthmus (Wisconsin)

Reinventing the restaurant: Eateries turn to new strategies to keep serving food

“No-touch” and “curbside” became the new buzzwords, as restaurants worked to minimize contact with patrons.Even food carts — already takeout only — were stepping up caution. The Common Pasta cart was at its usual station on East Main Street on March 16. Co-owner Brian Baur demonstrated the cart’s new no-touch system — no cash; all cards.

Little Village (Iowa)

Iowa DOT temporarily waives need to renew drivers licenses and vehicle registration

Drivers with a license that expired on Jan. 17 or later do not have to renew their licenses at this time. Similarly, vehicle registration that expired on Jan. 17 or later will also remain valid. People who are purchasing or transferring ownership of a vehicle are temporarily exempt from the requirement to obtain a title and registration within 30 days. If the person purchased a vehicle from a dealer, they do not have to obtain license plates within the 45-day period.

Orlando Weekly (Florida)

Social distancing required by COVID-19 could be the tipping point in Orange County’s fight for paid sick leave 

By now, it’s a familiar refrain: Health experts strongly urge that anyone feeling flu-like symptoms self-quarantine, and all of us should practice social distancing to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. But if a worker doesn’t have paid sick leave, they are extremely unlikely to call out – and when it’s a restaurant worker, that puts their co-workers and the general public at higher risk of infection.

Triad City Beat (North Carolina)

CITIZEN GREEN: Living through coronavirus

By the end of the day, the biannual spring furniture market in High Point — an event that annually generates $6.8 billion in economic activity and $616 million in tax revenue, according to a study by Duke University — was postponed until June. Events large and small were canceled, and restaurant workers braced for an interruption in income.

The River

A roundup of coronavirus news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties

Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order directing all businesses in the state to enact work-from-home policies, effective Friday. All non-essential businesses are forbidden to have more than 50 percent of their workforce in-office. “Essential businesses” include shipping, delivery, grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and important businesses in supply chains. It also includes media, although a lot of reporters are already working from home.

Chicago Reader (Illinois)

How Chicagoans, from creatives to nonprofit staff, are being affected by the novel coronavirus—and what we can all do to help

Our clients are already very vulnerable to sickness and isolated from services in society generally. I was with a client yesterday who wasn’t aware that coronavirus is in the U.S. It’s already impacted people’s ability to make an income, whether they’re asking for support on the street or engaged in sex work. 

Gambit Weekly (Louisiana)

This website by an LSU professor debunks fake news on coronavirus, presidential election

Leonard Apcar, a professor at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, founded, a site designed to inform audiences about the dangers of fake news and offer tools to identify it, including misinformation surrounding COVID-19.

Austin Chronicle (Texas)

Criminal Justice Advocates and Officials at Odds Over Pandemic Precautions

The coronavirus crisis has evoked a range of ideas over how best to respond to changing circumstances and increasing risks. On the local law enforcement front – still in campaign season – criminal justice reform advocates and public officials have gotten crossways.

Icepeople (Svalbard)

SOME SVALBARD WORKERS LEFT IN THE COLD FOR CORONAVIRUS UNEMPLOYMENT AID: Non-Norwegian citizens working for non-Norwegian companies ineligible, NAV says

Some Svalbard residents will be ineligible for or receive reduced assistance from Norway being provided to those laid off or similarly affected by the coronavirus crisis, according to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration. In particular, non-Norwegian citizens working for non-Norwegian employers will be ineligible. And those who are must have a valid Norwegian residency permit.

Salt Lake City Weekly (Utah)

Shaken and Stirred: Utahns wake up to 5.7 magnitude earthquake

“I know the last thing we need right now is an earthquake, but here we are, and it sounds like aftershocks are likely,” Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall tweeted. “The City is assessing the situation now and I’ll circle back with an update when I have it. Be safe.”

Salt Lake City Weekly Coronavirus Comic

Source Weekly (Oregon)

An ode to outdoor activities—one of the few sources of respite in these troubled times

This is not a call to leave your own community and to knock a trip off your bucket list to somewhere you don’t live. As the American Alpine Club‘s post yesterday reminded us, many places we recreate are “rural or gateway communities” that have very small health systems, and Americans should avoid the potential for overburdening those systems during this global pandemic. 

Rochester City Newspaper (New York)

The Memorial Art Gallery’s permanent collection of more than 12,000 works of art and cultural objects spans 5,000 years of history, and you can explore it from home via the MAG’s website.

One of the big, impactful precautions a lot of people are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, which has manifested in folks voluntarily staying in, state and local mandates for institutions and organizations to temporarily shut down, and in some cases, organizations voluntarily closing up shop. Last week, many of the area galleries and museums collectively decided to close for at least a couple of weeks, which means that while they’re protecting their patrons, we’re missing out on some current and upcoming programming and exhibits.

Santa Fe Reporter (New Mexico)

Mayor Freezes Evictions in Light of COVID-19

Mayor Alan Webber announced an update to the city’s emergency proclamation late Tuesday that indefinitely freezes evictions during the COVID-19 crisis. It also puts a moratorium on water shut-offs, delays lodger’s tax collection, and makes all public buses free, effective immediately. Spokesman Tripp Stelnicki says a statewide eviction freeze is something Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is also looking into.

Seven Days (Vermont)

UVM Medical Center Bans Visitors, Moratorium on Utility Disconnections, DCF Takes Precautions: Latest Coronavirus Updates in Vermont

“Each day we are taking the necessary steps to provide safe, high quality health care and to reduce the spread of COVID-19, with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Vermont Department of Health,” UVM Medical Center president Steven Leffler said in a statement. “We understand these changes are unsettling for some, however they are critical given the seriousness of this pandemic.” 

Willamette Week (Oregon)

A Portland Strip Club Has Started a Meal Delivery Service Where Dancers Bring Food Directly to Your Door

Lucky Devil Lounge is bringing its dancers to your door with a new food delivery service it’s calling—wait for it—”Boober Eats.” “I originally did it at first as a joke,” says club owner Shon Boulden, “and it got 150 shares on Facebook—like nothing we’ve ever had before. So I was like, ‘Well shit, why don’t we just try to do this?'”

Memphis Flyer (Tennessee) 

A pandemic platform of sorts

Let’s not forget. This dreadful virus chose to make its entrance into our public affairs during  a political-campaign year. Most of the public responses from political folk have had to do with how to wait out the pandemic or avoid its immediate consequences. One local candidate — Jerri Green, Democrat running for state House District 83 — chose to be a bit more proactive.

Lansing City Pulse (Michigan)

Lansing Police temporarily halts ‘physical response’ to certain crimes amid coronavirus scare

Until further notice, police officers in Lansing will no longer physically respond to any reports of larceny, malicious destruction of property or shoplifting where a suspect cannot be readily identified and where the value is under $1,000, attempted breaking and entering of unoccupied buildings like garages, identity theft where the victim wasn’t financially harmed, harassing communications, lost property and fraud when the venue of the crime is outside of city limits.  

Arkansas Times (Arkansas)

LR coronavirus task force discusses lack of testing swabs, developing pre-screening phone number

The task force asked city staff to create one 1-800 telephone number for patients in the Little Rock area who are concerned they have contracted the coronavirus to call to be pre-screened. The task force discussed allowing callers to pick their preferred hospital from a menu or having a “first available” option.

Pittsburgh Current (Pennsylvania)

PA Supreme Court orders all courts closed to public

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court filed an order late today declaring a judicial emergency and shutting down all courts in the commonwealth to the public until April 3. The order takes effect at the end of business on Thursday, March 19.

The Reader (Nebraska)

State relaxes unemployment standards for workers affected by Covid-19

As businesses close to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Nebraska Department of Labor will relax its requirements for those applying for unemployment between March 22 and May 2. On Monday, Labor Commissioner John Albin announced the department plans to won’t require its applicants to be searching for work.

Coachella Valley Independent (California)

Protecting the Care Givers: As the Coronavirus Toll Rises, So Do Concerns About Health-Care Workers’ Safety

“Nurses are eager to take care of patients and make sure that our communities are safe, but we need the right staffing, equipment, supplies, communication and training to do this safely,” Deborah Burger, president of the National Nurses United, which represents about 150,000 nurses around the country, said during a public health roundtable earlier this week. 

INDY Week (North Carolina)

Local Rapid-Response and Mutual-Aid Groups Scramble to Fill Federal-Aid Gaps

“Now we’re faced with the whole reason why I started this, which is that I thought we were going to have a disaster in the Triangle,” says Day One Disaster Relief’s Jil Christensen. “And now we do.”

City Paper (Charleston)

Charleston restaurant owners urge SC lawmakers to suspend taxes over worries about coronavirus losses

The ownership group will continue to pay all their employees, but Whalen recognizes that this just isn’t a reality for all small businesses. “We are fortunate to be in that position, but no one can do that forever,” explains Whalen. “I do hope that some step is taken to help our industry.”

Jackson Free Press (Mississippi)

Hinds, D.A. Evaluating Release of Some Pretrial Detainees Due to COVID-19

“The thousands of Mississippians locked up in our local jails find themselves sharing common areas, bunk beds, toilets, sinks, and showers with dozens of different people each day,” said Cliff Johnson, director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law, in a press release today. “Mississippi sheriffs will be the first to tell you that they do not have the expertise or resources to deal with a pandemic like COVID-19.”

Eugene Weekly (Oregon)

Cities, County Declare Emergency, Courts Stay Open

Declarations of emergency will help governments access funds, adjust to new policies. “Collectively we are all focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19, preserving our health care capacity, and protecting the most vulnerable,” Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said in a statement. “Declaring a state of emergency helps solidify our partnership and strengthens our capacity to respond to this emergency.”

Monterey County NOW (California)

Cannabis businesses can stay open during mandated quarantine in Monterey County.

The order defines agricultural and healthcare operations as “essential” businesses. “All legal commercial cannabis operations fall under one of these definitions,” Iwamoto says. “As such, all legal commercial cannabis operations may remain open.”

SLO New Times (California)

Public safety limits in-person contact

A civilian employee of the Sheriff’s Office, who lives in SLO County and recently returned from a trip to Europe, tested positive for coronavirus after becoming sick at work and seeking medical attention. That employee is now in isolation at home, according to the Sheriff’s Office, along with several other at-risk colleagues who work in the Santa Barbara County Main Jail: four sworn Santa Barbara County custody deputies, a general services employee, two healthcare workers, and five other civilian Sheriff’s Office personnel.

Washington City Paper (Washington, DC)

Constantly Changing Guidance Allows COVID-19 to Spread at a Local Synagogue

Emails provided to City Paper from March 12 through March 16 reveal leaders of Ohev Sholom’s initial reluctance to completely close their doors, apparently at the advice of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office, their quick reversal in an effort to keep up with rapidly changing and confusing guidance, and one member’s journey from learning of their potential exposure to living under quarantine.