Delivering the News

The Corona Times – April 6, 2020

by Brandon Roberts

NOTE: Brandon Roberts is editor and publisher of the Mitchell News-Journal, published in Spruce Pine since 1927, He has provided two articles he wrote for the editorial page in the paper on consecutive weeks in March, 2020. He asked that we include these in our record of this time in Mitchell County’s history. Brandon’s e-mail is

ONE MORE THING…Tonight (April 6) is the first night of the 10:00 p.m.-5:30 a.m. curfew in Mitchell County.

March 18, 2020

We’re All in This Thing Together

Photo of Brandon Roberts

Brandon Roberts

As of press time Monday, March 16 , there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19, or coronavirus, in Mitchell County. There was also very little to no toilet paper.

The fear of the spread of the virus has conjured is taking and will continue taking a massive toll on local businesses in Mitchell County, many of which are already seasonal and have delayed opening. Business owners are really left with no choice, however, since a rapid spread of a contagious virus through the population of an isolated mountain county is definitely not good for business, either.

If things aren’t under control in a reasonable amount of time, the economic downturn it could create could prove fatal for some business and cause the cancellation of some of our county’s more time-honored traditions. Schools are closed, spring sports shut down, meetings scrapped and events canceled or postponed indefinitely.

The county and the towns of Bakersville and Spruce Pine are following the state’s guidelines to prevent the possibility of the spread of the virus, as they should, and gatherings are being limited to 50 people or fewer. Precautions are being taken anywhere and everywhere, but we will get through this trying time, and likely emerge as strong a community as we have ever been.

March 25, 2020

A Message About the Crisis We Are Facing

These are frightening and disorienting times, and on behalf of the Mitchell News-Journal and Community Newspapers Inc., I wish you and your families the strength we all need to get through the weeks and months ahead. I’m afraid the impacts will be profound, but I am equally confident we will pull together and get through it.

Local news organizations and the journalists who work so hard to provide their communities with reliable and thoughtful news were facing financial challenges long before the COVID-19 crisis hit. But today’s public health emergency, and the economic devastation that threatens all small businesses, may very well be the final blow that ends many local journalism outlets. Across the country, even local newspapers adapting to the migration of readers to the internet and are successfully transitioning from print publishing to online publishing face an existential threat to their survival. But we are betting our future on you – our loyal readers who understand the importance of the community journalism we offer – and we remain optimistic.

We are surrounded by an abundance of residents who believe in the need for a local news source that is responsive to the community and dedicated to producing thoughtful, quality journalism that is trusted and respected. The Mitchell News-Journal has been successfully managed through many economic ups-and-downs, including the dot-com bust, the launch of Craigslist, Google and Facebook, 9/11, the 2008 financial collapse, the Great Recession and many other challenges, both large and small. We have become essential to our community.

We have been and are currently working tirelessly to deepen our reporting and provide coverage of news that matters to our readers. But the Covid-19 crisis represents, by far, the greatest threat to the survival of local news organizations. While advertising revenues continue decreasing, the work we do has never been more urgent. We have been working around-the-clock to keep our readers informed on every angle of this terrible story, working from home as well as venturing out into the community when necessary. If readers who value community journalism don’t step up to support their local newspapers now, many will become additional victims of the coronavirus crisis.

Local news has been funded primarily by the advertising of independent local retail businesses. But as local retail has struggled, cut ad budgets and all too often gone out of business, most local newspapers across the country have had to cut costs, usually by reducing staff, to stay in business. It’s a recipe for failure because when staff is cut, good journalism isn’t possible and readership quickly evaporates. We are determined not to let that be our fate. This community needs the Mitchell News-Journal and

We Want to Tell Your Story

If you have stories, images, or videos that you would like to include in The Corona Times, please e-mail with your stories and files for inclusion. If you have problems sending us videos, please e-mail and we will make arrangements for you to upload the video to us.

About the Numbers

You will note a series of numbers contained in the blog. They document the spread of virus through confirmed cases by the federal Centers for Disease Control and by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. These are the official totals provided by state and local government at the date of the post and do not include estimates or cases not confirmed by these agencies. This is our effort to provide an accurate gauge of confirmed virus spread as it continues during the pandemic.


Cases in North Carolina


Deaths in North Carolina


Current Hospitalizations
in North Carolina


Cases in Western North Carolina


Deaths in
Western North Carolina


Cases in the United States


Deaths in the United States

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