No Print Edition This Week
Businesses on Fort Myers Beach and elsewhere are fighting for their lives as communities react to the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps taken to prevent the spread of the virus and the potential overwhelming of available health care facilities, personnel and equipment.
The Island Sand Paper is no different than many other small locally-owned businesses and is experiencing some serious effects of COVID-19. As a result, we have decided that for at least the next two weeks, we will not publish a print edition.
Yes, we’re surprised also. This is the first time that the Island Sand Paper has not gone to press in twenty years. Hurricanes didn’t stop the Sand Paper. Oil spills and bad water didn’t stop the Sand Paper. COVID-19 has, at least for a couple weeks.
There are several reasons for that. First and foremost is a shortage of advertisers who are still open, soliciting customers and willing to purchase advertising. We often say that we are a free newspaper and without our advertisers, we wouldn’t exist. Well, this week, we are pretty darn close to being without advertisers. The handful of ads for businesses that remain open would not begin to cover the costs of printing even a much smaller paper. Believe us, we’ve crunched the numbers looking for a way to be able to publish a Sand Paper next Friday.
Another reason for taking a hiatus is to help contain COVID-19. Many of our papers are distributed via hard textured plastic news boxes. Dozens of people touch each news box in the process of getting their paper. That gives us pause.
There is no indication yet that the virus has been transmitted via surfaces, but initial research released last week by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases suggests that the virus lasts longest on smooth, non-porous surfaces and was still viable after 3 days on smooth plastic and stainless steel. The study found that the virus lost half its potency every 66 minutes. This means that after three hours, it would be about 12% as infectious as when it landed on that surface.
On cardboard the study found it lasts less than 24 hours. Newsprint is much more porous than cardboard, so the virus would likely live on it for a much shorter time. But in these days of hand-washing and wiping and disinfecting and social distancing, we do not want to take even the smallest risk. We are cleaning all of our news boxes and they will remain empty for the time being.
The Sand Paper will continue to publish Fort Myers Beach news via our website FortMyersBeach.news, where all our stories are available for free. There is no paywall. If you haven’t visited the website yet, we invite you to take a look around. You’ll also find links to many of our stories on our Facebook page.
Just as in the print issue, we want to include all your community announcements, so please keep sending them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send Letters to the Editor, photos and anything you’d like to share with our readers there also. We want to keep our community spirit alive, so even if we are all isolated in our homes to prevent spreading the virus, reach out and share your stories with us so we can share them with the rest of our community!
When will we bring back the print edition? Just as soon as we possibly can. Like most businesses, we want to be here for the financial recovery of our beloved Island. Predictions are foolish at this point as no one knows how this will play out. This crisis is unprecedented and comes without any guidelines or past history to guide any of us.
We can tell you that we’ve watched and participated in the economic rebirth of Fort Myers Beach after Hurricane Charley, the Deep Horizon oil spill, a number of bad water summers, a recession and a bad water season. We have faith that this Island and its businesses know how to weather economic storms and how to rebuild afterwards. We look forward to being a part of that rebirth when it comes. #WeAreFMB
The April SAND LIFE Entertainment Magazine will not be published. The centerpiece of the magazine is the monthly calendar filled with live music listings, events, classes and all the fun things to do on Fort Myers Beach. Nearly everything scheduled for April has been canceled, so that calendar is blank. We are hoping for a resurgence of events and live music soon and will resume SAND LIFE as soon as possible.