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Impact of the COVID-19 outbreak hits The Durango Herald

Since the state’s first-confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in Keystone, residents have faced one executive order after another in the effort to slow the advance of the virus, for which there is no known vaccine.

School classes have been canceled, restaurants and bars have been reduced to takeout businesses, and gatherings in churches and political assemblies have been limited to 10 or fewer people.

On Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered all noncritical businesses reduce their in-person workforce by 50%. And on Monday, San Juan Basin Public Health announced that Southwest Colorado had its first confirmed case of the virus, a resident of La Plata County. Residents in La Plata and Archuleta counties were advised to stay at home.

Hundreds of layoffs have dashed expectations and hopes for working people and their families, from Towaoc to Cortez, Durango and Bayfield.

The Durango Herald also has felt the impact of the fight against the coronavirus.

Employees are practicing social distancing, and most are working remotely from home. Reporters and editors are working longer days and weeks to provide readers with the latest developments in the pandemic. On Friday, the Herald laid off five people from its news and advertising departments, the core teams of its news business, amid falling advertising revenue. Demand for news remains high, and online subscriptions continue to increase.

“We are not immune from the same health and business issues our communities are facing,” said Doug Bennett, CEO of the Herald’s parent company, Ballantine Communications Inc. “We are supported by subscriptions and advertising. While subscriptions are staying steady, the same can’t be said for advertising.”

Last week, The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez began distributing critical news about the coronavirus pandemic for free, seven days a week. Both newspapers also have increased their free distribution of breaking news emails to inform readers of the latest developments.

“We will continue to provide the best information and advertising to our readers and advertisers,” Bennett said. “We have to adjust our business just like any other business to work through this difficult environment. We have a great, hardworking employee base, and we plan to continue to do our best to keep everyone employed.”

Trent Stephens, Senior Editor

May 21, 2022
Durango issues stay-at-home advisory in response to COVID-19 health crisis
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