I shaved off the little patch of hair under my bottom lip, the one I first grew in 1989 in honor of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s passing and maintained, more or less, throughout my adulthood. Sure, it wasn’t a proper beard, but I’m not taking any chances.

We shower when we get home in my house now, not before we leave. And we leave our shoes by the door. We’ve got gloves and masks — not medical grade, but whatever — and we try not to leave the house more than once a day.

My wife and I bear the distinction of working in “essential services,” she in healthcare and I in media. And while we’re glad to be of use in this new coronavirus life, we don’t hold the privilege lightly. We’ve got a child with asthma, and I’ve smoked more cigarettes than I’ll admit. We’re willing to go out there in the soup and do our jobs. But in a very literal way, we cannot bring our work home with us.

I issued a handful of letters last week, in advance of the statewide stay-at-home order — to key personnel: reporters, photographers and a videographer, as well as a designer who’s transitioning to work from home. I instructed them not to venture outside their professional comfort zone, and to document this most unprecedented event as it happens, on the ground, as best they could.

And I reminded them: We’ve been deemed essential, so we need to be essential. All killer, no filler, as we used to say. We’ve got to earn that distinction of being essential with every story, every photo, every instance we risk our own health to help create that first draft of history.

I try to check the mail at the office every day, tour the city by car and mourn the losses — mostly economic, so far, but there’s more to come. Which means there’s more to do.

I write the daily roundup after the evening’s shower, usually while I’m eating dinner. Then perhaps I’ll join my wife to consume some content — that’s how I’m thinking about it now, just another form of necessary consumption.

Because we’re down to the essentials now. And everybody plays a part.

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