By all accounts, 2020 has been a strange and difficult year. The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact, in some manner, on everything that happened this year—from how we dine to how we gather, from the presidential election to all aspects of business.
As I was going through issues of Rubber & Plastics News from this year, doing research for our Year in Review, it gave me a chance to reflect on how the crisis played out this year, week by week.
• Feb. 10 issue: The first coronavirus story appeared, tucked on a page way in the back. Goodyear said it was suspending operations in China because of COVID-19.
• Feb. 24 issue: Several stories, but nothing to forecast what was to come. At that point, total worldwide deaths had reached 2,000. There were 74,000 cases in China alone, but the World Health Organization reported just 800 additional cases in 25 countries. Michelin, Goodyear and Continental all said the were resuming operations in China, albeit in a limited capacity.
• March 9 issue: Still hasn't reached front page status. Had two pages of coverage inside, including the first reporting of industry events being canceled.
• March 23 issue: The pandemic finally hits our front page, as the potential weight of the crisis starts to take shape. One story focused on how industry companies were finding their way during the pandemic. Another detailed plans for temporary tire plant shutdowns. I also drew attention to coverage on our website, rubbernews.com. At that time, as many as a dozen updates were being posted daily. We were fortunate to be able to draw on the resources of sister publications in the Crain Communications family, particularly Tire Business, Plastics News, European Rubber Journal and Automotive News.
• April 6 issue: By now, we're all in on COVID-19 coverage. The entire front page is devoted to the pandemic, along with six more pages of coverage inside. Our staff reported on what rubber firms were doing to remain essential; we gave an inside perspective from Italy's Tudertechnica, a hose maker from one of the countries hardest hit early on; and an in-depth piece on the "Arsenal of Health" aiming to supply medical goods.
• April 20 issue: The front page again is filled with COVID-related stories, along with another six pages of coverage inside. Goodyear Chairman Richard Kramer talks about when Goodyear planned to ramp up production; Woodbridge Inoac geared up polyurethane production; and people in the industry were looking for ways to help, both big and small.