Adding COVID-19 to the handbook

Kim Brooks
Babbling Brooks Column
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     So many entities have been impacted by coronavirus: businesses, non-profits, government services/entities, schools, churches, even individual family life.

     In talking with Dr. Brian Jaeger last week, superintendent of Monticello schools, it hit me… Who would have ever thought we’d all need a COVID-19 chapter in our handbooks?

     Think about it… Did you ever think your business would need a policy or chapter on how to deal with and operate under a worldwide pandemic? Did schools ever think they’d need to address operations during a pandemic? What about churches?

     And one policy is not one-size-fits-all. What works for one business does not work for another. What works for your family does not work for your neighbor.

     Due to the fact that Monticello unfortunately became a COVID-19 hotspot recently, the Monticello Express went back to locking our door and offering customer service over the phone, via email, or outside of our building. All of our employees are wearing facemasks inside the office.

     Some other businesses chose to take a couple steps back. One restaurant decided to discontinue dine-in services and resort to carry-outs/pick-up again. Another shut down its buffet for the time being. All in an effort to keep the community safe and healthy.

     A few weeks ago, before the Fourth of July, we all thought we were in the clear. Case numbers and deaths were on the decline. Now, numbers are on the rise locally, causing some of us to rethink our business and personal strategies.

     So if you had a chapter in your handbook regarding “how to handle work life during a pandemic,” what might that look like? I think we’re all trying to figure that out right now…

     On another note, (though still related to COVID-19) Jill Cigrand here at the Express, who handles all of our Lifestyles content, was researching tidbits for our weekly “Years Gone By” column last week. She brought it to my attention that this year’s Great Jones County Fair marks the 10th anniversary of the 2010 flood. The Lake Delhi dam failed, causing the Maquoketa River to swell in Monticello, putting an abrupt stop to the fair that summer.

     Yes, the fair has seen flooding in the past, but that amount of water was unprecedented. And now, 10 years later, the fair is dealing with another “unprecedented” catastrophe: COVID-19. Who would have thought…

     I was personally looking forward to Alan Jackson this year at the fair. He was scheduled to perform on July 24, the exact same date he performed at the fair in 2010, the night before the fair shut down. It would have been a memorable night for sure.

     While the fair shut down completely following the flood 10 years ago, this year’s modified fair is a little different. You can read all about it in this week’s Express, but it’s something to take note of for sure.

     For the 4-H and FFA youth and their families, it’s not too different other than perhaps a change of venue or format for showing their livestock or exhibiting their F.A.S.T. projects. But for those who came to the fair to eat fried foods, enjoy your annual pilgrimage to buy a strawberry smoothie, to spend time at the beer tent, to ride on the Ferris wheel, or take in one heck of a concert, it’s an odd year.

     COVID-19 has really impacted every facet of life in 2020. That just means we hopefully have so much to look forward to in 2021…


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