The spike this week in Iowa’s COVID-19 case load shows once again why social distancing is so critical if Iowa is to return to anything resembling normal this year.

Those who contracted the virus at the plant in Louisa County did not, as a rule, have a choice on whether they were exposed. They were at work, doing their jobs. the same is true of those who are experiencing outbreaks at nursing homes and care facilities. There are six sites the state is tracking for those, the worst of which has sickened more than 100 people.

Why should those outbreaks matter to most of us? Because it appears possible, perhaps likely, that this virus is being spread in part by people who don’t even realize they have it. Given that, the only way to slow the spread it to limit contact with others.

You’re not just doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for people who don’t have a choice but to be around others.

We all want answers on when things will get back to something resembling what life was like before the pandemic hit. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t much more than a month ago for Iowa.

There aren’t too many answers right now. Those can’t really form until we see this first wave of the pandemic ebbs in our state. While there are signs we are close, and that the corner may have been turned nationally, we’re not there right now. Even after that happens, most people will still remain vulnerable.

This isn’t the first time we’ve touched on those thoughts with an editorial. And that gives rise to a valid question: why are we repeating ourselves?

Simply put, this is the most accurate information we have at this time, and it is our responsibility to make sure that we present that to our readers. We firmly believe that answers you don’t like (and we don’t much care for, either) are better than the fear of the unknown.

Putting that information in front of you is our job, and we take it seriously. Unlike television or radio, papers like ours are not entertainment platforms that occasionally dabble in news. News is our primary focus. It’s what we do. And, frankly, we need your help to keep doing it.

Advertising has long been the main source of revenue for newspapers. The pandemic and the broad shutdowns it has caused have absolutely gutted that source. We’re not blaming the businesses — it makes little sense to advertise when you’re not open, after all. But gathering the news isn’t free. It never has been.

We still have to pay our employees to work, to make the phone calls and interview the people who can tell you what’s going on in our little corner of the world. The answers we’re working so hard to bring you don’t come for free.

So, if you see the value in what we do, we ask that you subscribe. Print and online subscriptions begin at $16.99 per month — about 56 cents per day. An online-only subscription starts at $14.99 per month.

These are tough times for Iowa businesses, ourselves included. We want to keep bringing you the news as you’re accustomed to getting it. We need your help to do so.

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