At the beginning of the year, I took a new job as editor for RVBusiness and Woodall’s Campground Management magazines.

This, after 31 years at the Times-Union.

Chandler and Erin Williams, the owners of the Times-Union, were kind enough to ask me to stay on as a consultant and offered me this platform from time to time.

While I am thoroughly enjoying my new job, I must say I do miss the daily newspaper business.

I was thinking about that last week because my wife, Mary, and I were taking a long-planned week’s vacation in the Tampa, Fla., area to visit our daughter and her family amid all the coronavirus news.

It dawned on me that it is precisely at this moment – during these types of situations – that the importance of a daily newspaper really shows.

Sure, there is information all over the internet, but how does this really affect the readers of the Times-Union? How is that massive glut of information relatable to the local community?

And how much of that information is even accurate?

I don’t work at the Times-Union anymore, but I know the people there are dedicated to bringing their readers the most accurate, useful and updated information available – every day. You can be sure that the information you read in these pages – especially the locally produced stories – are accurate and timely.

I’ve been watching the Times-Union’s coverage. It’s extensive, essential and useful.

During a crisis like this, it should be your go-to source for local information.

I must admit, just like everyone else in America, I have never seen anything like the coronavirus outbreak, how it has been covered and how it has affected our country. The panic buying, the stock market losses, the closing of businesses – nothing compares. Not Ebola, SARS, H1N1 or MERS.

It seems to me that some of the things we’re being asked to do these days are things we should have been doing all along.

Things like hand-washing, not touching our faces, covering our mouths when we cough or sneeze, staying home when we’re sick and staying away from sick people are simply common sense.

And perhaps, if we’d been doing those things all along, the routine seasonal flu that strikes the U.S. annually could be mitigated.

This flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from Oct. 1 through March 7, there have been between 36 million and 51 million flu illnesses in the U.S.

There have been 17 million to 24 million flu medical visits.

There have been 370,000 to 670,000 flue hospitalizations.

And there have been 22,000 to 55,000 flu deaths.

The numbers have such a wide range because some of the flu sufferers also presented with pneumonia. It’s kind of a chicken/egg situation. Did the flu cause the pneumonia or vice versa?

Nonetheless, Oct. 1 to March 7 comprises 157 days.

That means during those 157 days in the U.S. – on the low estimate from our own CDC – there have been:

• 197,452 cases of flu per day.

• 108,380 flu medical visits per day.

• 2,356 flu hospitalizations per day.

• 140 flu deaths per day.

And, by the way, the 2019-2020 flu season was fairly mild.

One of the worst flu seasons was in 2009, when H1N1, commonly called swine flu, was the culprit. The CDC estimates between 151,700 to 575,400 people died worldwide during the first year that virus circulated. Oddly, about 80% of those deaths were people younger than 65. During typical seasonal influenza epidemics, 70 to 90% of deaths occur in people over 65.

So far – worldwide – there have been 523,163 coronavirus cases and 23,639 deaths, which represent a 4.5% death rate. That’s far deadlier than the .06% death rate of the seasonal flu. To be fair, the coronavirus death rate is probably much lower than that because there are lots more cases that have not been reported. Testing has been spotty and some 75% of sufferers get a case so mild they don’t even go to the doctor.

Even so, coronavirus is a nasty viral disease and will likely change the way we behave forever. Even if the death rate is only 1%, that would mean between 360,000 and 550,000 deaths in the U.S. if the infection rate is the same as this year’s seasonal flu.

So, while this whole shelter-in-place thing is truly a major pain and a huge drain on the economy, it’s probably the right thing to do. It clearly will save lives.

But when you’re sheltering, there are ways you can soften the blow to the local economy.

It looks there is going to be significant government help for workers displaced by the virus. There will be direct payments and unemployment benefits are being increased significantly.

This should allow most people to cover necessary expenses.

After that, if you can afford it, patronize as many local businesses as you can. Get carry-out from your favorite restaurant. Better yet, get carry-out from a restaurant you haven’t tried yet.

Don’t order anything online you can live without for awhile. If you need a pair of shoes, a jacket, a knife, a gun or a basketball, don’t go online and order it. Wait until you can shop locally. All that pent-up demand will help get things rolling again once the crisis passes.

Don’t panic buy anything. Things you truly need will always be available.

And if you operate a local business, remember: The newspaper is a local business, too. Try to buy an ad once in awhile.

This, too, shall pass. If we all follow the guidelines, work together and help each other out, we’ll come out stronger on the other side.