2020 … and then the toilet paper ran out
For more than a decade, The Record-Courier has devoted this space to a wrap-up of the year’s 24 biggest news stories.
But in 2020, there were at best a half-dozen big stories covered by The Record-Courier, with most of the rest connected in some way.
The first two months of Douglas County contained the usual fare, Eagles and Ag, project approvals and preparation for the election year to come. The last front page of the paper before the arrival of the coronavirus talked about a late winter storm and Genoa resident Betsy Cooksey’s plan to ride 400 miles through Outer Mongolia.
Everything pretty much changed on St. Patrick’s Day when an order closing the schools and casinos was issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak in response to the arrival of the virus.
The R-C reported the first case of the virus in Douglas less than a week later. The woman in her 30s recovered at home. That was the same issue the newspaper focused on take-out from restaurants whose dining rooms were closed. A Gardnerville daycare became the first business to close due to exposure.
Restaurants weren’t the only ones having to adapt to new ways of doing business.
The impending retirement of Douglas County School Superintendent Teri White introduced school board trustees to Zoom, while county commissioners met using You Tube and the courts relied on Go To Meeting, and even churches went digital to celebrate Easter. Events that would once draw crowds took to flatbed trailers to bring music to the streets.
School lunches were distributed to vehicles as Valley manufacturers and volunteers came up with ways to help, creating masks and hand sanitizer.
The virus changed how residents voted in the primary with active voters receiving ballots in the mail. Douglas County commissioners escorted by a score of residents brought their demand to reopen businesses to the state capital even as the state capital closed a Gardnerville antique store in late April.
Several events succumbed to the lockdowns associated with the virus, including the Aviation Roundup and July Fourth celebrations, Candy Dance and Nevada Day. That didn’t stop residents from celebrating graduation and Carson Valley Days with vehicle parades.
Summer saw the virus reduced to a dull roar, and plans for both opening the schools and conducting the election both exploring the term “hybrid.”
The schools’ version of that term meant students would be able to attend class in person on alternate days or sign up for the district’s brand new online school. For hybrid elections, active voters received ballots in the mail, or voted in person either early or on Election Day.
Frustration with lockdowns and coronavirus fatigue may have contributed to the drama in August and September.
On Aug. 8, supporters of the sheriff, many armed, swamped downtown Minden to counter a much smaller #Black Lives Matter protest prompted by a letter written by the sheriff decrying the proposed use of the hashtag in a library diversity statement. Then on Sept. 12, 28,000 people came to a rally for President Trump that was moved to Minden-Tahoe Airport after the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority rejected a plan to have it there due to virus restrictions. The state cited Douglas County and the airport over the rally, but withdrew the citation after the county decided to fight it. While neither event was associated with a surge in cases, that was still in the cards.
On Nov. 22, after bumping along with no more than a few dozen active cases at a time, health officials reported a 264-case surge. A week later, at the end of November, there were 500 active cases and four deaths. Colder weather, which forced people indoors was blamed for the sudden spike that saw the year end with nearly 1,000 Douglas cases and 15 deaths.
The end of the year, though, also saw the introduction of the first vaccines in Western Nevada. Two Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center nurses were the first to get the first shots. Because the vaccine requires two doses 25 days apart, no one has been fully vaccinated, yet.
On Jan. 2, 2020, The R-C opined that “nothing is really certain.” That was easily the most ridiculous understatement in the history of understatements. Here’s hoping 2021 brings some pleasant surprises instead of the constant drumbeat of disease and disappointment that accompanied 2020.