Andrea Rondeau column: How much is too much COVID-19 coverage?

We don’t want to overload people on COVID-19.

How much is too much, and how much is not enough?

How do we hit that right balance in between?

These are the questions we’re asking ourselves right now in the newsroom as we grapple with continuing coverage of the COVID-19 situation around the world.

I’m keenly aware as I write this that it’s my second COVID-19 column in two weeks.

So far, with only one presumptive case of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island as of this writing, we haven’t had to do too much at the local level.

There have only been a couple of related local stories so far. First was the cancellation by the school district of all international travel for students through the end of the school year. Sorry Frances Kelsey students who were bound for England. That really sucks. And there was a press release from the CVRD saying all services are still open there, though they recommend taking some precautions. Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau had to cancel all of her Green Party leadership events and try to schedule them online, instead.

But if you visit our website (and I highly suggest you do — www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com) you’ll see plenty of COVID-19 related stories from around the world. From stock market volatility, to daily updates from provincial health authorities, and affected cruise ships, there’s plenty that’s been written.

But here’s the thing. We don’t want to overload people on COVID-19. All coronavirus, all the time. We don’t want to be any part of spreading needless fear and panic, when the risk to people in the Cowichan Valley (and indeed, Canada as a whole) is so far very, very low. We also don’t want to bore people with one repetitive topic.

At the same time, we want to keep people apprised of current events. After all, it’s certainly interesting that all of Italy is now locked down with the virus. There is legitimately new information coming out every day. And we wouldn’t be surprised if there are more cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island before the illness has run its course, just as we can expect more diagnoses across the country in the coming days. (There’s still no reason to run out and stockpile face masks. In fact, care providers who actually need them would really prefer you didn’t.)

So we’ll keep trying to bring you an appropriate mix of COVID-19 news and all of the other community, Island, provincial and national news that is in a lot of ways far more immediately relevant to your everyday lives.

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