March 16, 2020

On Sunday afternoon, I had an uncomfortable conversation with my daughter.

"If I have to be quarantined for months, I might lose my mind," she said.

I did what almost any dad might do. I tried to fix it. I pointed out the many things she could do to pass the time - learn to play the guitar, paint, journal, go for long walks, maybe even volunteer.

She got upset and accused me of not listening to her, minimizing her feelings. She stomped away, tears in her eyes.

But later that afternoon, she said something very profound to me.

"I don't need you to tell me what to do. I need you to let me be sad for a day and process everything."

She was right, of course. This is a scary time. We are all processing this experience in different ways. It is not up to me to tell others how they should feel. This is like no other event in our lifetimes.

As a journalist, I am in a unique position to document history, and I want to do it in a meaningful way.

This is the first entry in a daily diary, "COVID-19: Changing Our Lives," that I will be managing on wtol.com. It's a different challenge for me. I am WTOL's lead investigator. But I am also a storyteller, and I think I may never have a more important assignment than to tell the stories of Toledoans during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

I will recount the major events - the highs and the lows - of each day. Next year we can look back and read that the Ohio primary election was pushed back for months and that Canada closed its borders on March 16. Mostly, however, I am going to let you fill the pages of this chapter in Toledo history.

In addition to my daily recounting of events, I will pick three submissions to include in that day's digital "diary." The submissions can either be written (ideally around 250 words) or visual (a 60 to 90-second video). If you write something, please snap a couple of pictures and send them along. All submissions should be sent to blog@wtol.com.

I am going to select three each day, but I promise that I will read - or watch - and save every submission. Include your name, hometown, and contact information. If you don't want your name used, let me know that. I may reach out to you and ask to personally interview you as part of a documentary to be aired at a later point.

The point here is to capture the spirit and fears of the community. This is our story, and everyone has a story to tell. Maybe it's an emergency worker who fears being exposed to the virus, a teacher trying to figure out how to educate in this environment, a parent who had a difficult conversation with a child.

What about the politician who has trouble sleeping at night because he or she is scared of making the wrong decision? Or maybe this can be a project for families or a child stuck at home - a funny video of how they are passing the days together.

I am looking for real emotions. I want to hear about the fears, the sadness, the triumphs, and also the stories about Toledoans helping other Toledoans.

This project will evolve over time. Emotions on March 16 will be different than emotions on April 16, so try to capture the feelings of that instant. This is our journey. I want to cover it through all the stages.

On some days, you will hear from WTOL staff members, because this is our story too. But, for the most part, you will be the storytellers in the most important chapter in Toledo history.

Sincerely,

Brian Dugger

lead investigator/father/husband/son/brother/Toledoan 

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