After three years in a row marked by natural disasters and other tragedies, I was wondering if maybe, just maybe, Ventura County could catch a break. We’ve needed one after weathering the Thomas Fire in 2017, 2018’s double whammy of the Borderline shooting and the Woolsey Fire and, in 2019, the deadly fire aboard the dive boat Conception followed shortly thereafter by the Maria and Easy fires.

Now, we’re facing a new threat, one quite unlike anything the community has had to face before. The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly grinding public life down to a halt, as schools, libraries, museums, bars and more close to prevent transmission and “flatten the curve.” Last week, VCReporter staff were scrambling to keep up with the minute-by-minute cancellations blowing up our email inboxes amid a constant stream of updates from health officials and government agencies. Much of our March 12 issue was obsolete by the time it hit newsstands, and so we have changed tack to make sure we are offering information that is timely and relevant. 

As I write this, nightlife is basically canceled across the county — bars, nightclubs, theaters and performing arts centers have all gone dark for the time being, and anything involving a crowd is basically verboten. In light of this, our After Dark music listings might be on hiatus for a while, and the Happenings pages are going to be a lot shorter. Restaurants remain open, but only for takeout and delivery — and our In Good Taste reviews will reflect that.

The Music and Art and Culture sections will be a little more fluid as we publish stories that make sense in this new reality. For the time being, news will be our top priority. We’ll reassess as time goes by and no doubt return, eventually, to regularly scheduled programming. But if the VCReporter looks different for a while — now you know why.

COVID-19 is affecting humanity’s way of life across the globe. Not every country has been hit as hard as China and Italy, but they’ve all felt an impact. And none of the old rules seem to apply. Instead of “coming together as a community,” now social distancing is the order of the day. Getting out and about is a great way to banish the blues . . . and transmit a virus. So we’re staying home, telecommuting, canceling those vacation plans and going into temporary isolation. Where once we were urged to get off our devices and engage with the real world, we’re retreating more and more to the safety of the virtual one. The very things we had been told were necessary for solace and survival are contraindicated now.

These are strange days, indeed. But as we’ve been shown again and again, this is a resilient community. Following those best practices will not be easy. There will be compromises, sacrifices, frustration, loss of income and comfort and, for some, risks to health and well being. Things are probably going to get worse before they get better. But I firmly believe they will get better.

So let’s all take a deep breath, square those shoulders and find a measure of peace and resolve to get through these next few weeks and months.

It’s going to be okay. We’ve got this. And the VCReporter will be with you, every step of the way.

— Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer, Arts Editor