• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Here's Johnny!

Reporting on you know what

A post on our Facebook page Monday afternoon with a few of the details about a local – I’ll call it a facility on this page – shutting down due to you know sparked the proverbial spirited debate. By noon the following day, 68 comments were posted, there were 2,191 engagements and 6,043 people reached. I’ll share a few of the more vivid comments in a moment, but first let me show you what we posted. Thirteen COVID-19 cases (as of earlier today) have been traced to … despite a host of precautions the … owner said were taken by her and her staff. More in this week’s Sun. First, the ellipses. I’m using them here because while I strongly believe it’s our duty to report the facts on a situation like this, there’s no need to mention the facility’s name in a column with a different aim. Second, the aim of the post was to briefly report on something impacting many people in Woodford and at least three other counties and remind Dear Readers that much more was to come, as they say, in this week’s Sun. Please note that I gave the owner of the business a voice in the cutline. Third, would you rather hear about something important from someone who heard about it from someone who heard about it from someone else, or someone who spoke with a parent, the facility owner and Woodford Public Health Director Cassie Prather? Fourth, Prather didn’t call me. I called her – after speaking to two people who knew some of what had happened. Fifth, this is the first cluster of cases I’ve learned of in Woodford County. Like everyone, I hope there aren’t any more. However, If there are, and we learn of them, we’ll report on them. Sixth, I realize some folks would rather not hear about things like this at all. We heard from a few of ‘em. And now for some fan mail, with no names attached. I’ll begin with my favorite: “I would consider the source. This is the same newspaper who posted statistics from the wrong Woodford County only a few weeks ago and didn’t realize it until multiple people pointed it out. …” Well, she’s right about that. I – I mean we – do make mistakes from time to time. And when we do, we own up to them, and in the case she mentioned, I did so on Facebook and in that week’s column. “Was it really necessary for you to name this business? So you’ll name a business but won’t name individuals who are infected so people will know if they’ve been in contact? That’s just wrong...” Here’s how the next person on a thread that was hardly thread-bare responded to that: “Publicly outing people’s medical conditions would be an egregious HIPAA violation … and there are no such laws preventing the report of (the facility) being the location of an outbreak. Opinions may vary on whether naming them is necessary, but I hope this answers your questions.” I thought the following poster made a good point and posed what is perhaps an unanswerable question: “How does anyone know that these people didn’t have covid before they came in?” Then, of course … “Fake news” I think the above term is most often used by folks who object to learning things that don’t align with their views, but it’s possible the commenter was being ironic. Or facetious. Perhaps even sarcastic. Finally, I want to thank the person who wrote the following: “Thanks, Woodford Sun for reporting the news. I still believe that’s your job and Covid is the top news right now. That doesn’t make you a business basher....” We’ve no desire to bash any businesses. Our job is to report the news as fairly and accurately as possible. Of course, as the person who referenced my brief dalliance with the Woodford County, Illinois Health Department’s Facebook page noted, we do make mistakes. (That one was all me, by the way.) Thanks to everyone who expressed their opinions, pro, con and otherwise. With all due respect to people who disagreed with Monday’s post, we didn’t make a mistake that day. I believe more folks will agree with that statement after reading the story in this week’s Sun.


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