I live in a rural area. I wear masks. I thought I was being careful. I still got COVID.

By Kathryn Jones

It began week before last with a sneeze. Post-nasal drip irritating the back of my throat. Allergies, I told myself. The mountain cedar is blooming. A cold front blew in. A lot of pollen is swirling in the air.

The next day my sinuses hurt. I had a dull headache. I felt a bit warm and took my temperature – 99.2. Mild sinus infection, I told myself.

Then I lost my senses of smell and taste. It wasn’t gradual. They were just gone.

That concerned me because I’d read several articles where COVID patients talked about not being able to smell or taste anything. Still, that wasn’t unusual. Sometimes when I get a seasonal sinus infection, I get so congested that I can’t taste. But not for two days, which turned to three, then four.

A friend and I had lunch in mid-October and ate outside at a restaurant on Lake Granbury. A week later, she was sick with COVID. Could we have gotten it there? We’ll never really know for sure.

Still, I rationalized that it was unlikely I had it. My husband, Dan, and I live on a remote piece of property in Bosque County. We’re a mile-and-a-half off the highway, down a twisting, hilly gravel road. His parents, who are in their late 80s, live just down the road. The number of cases in our area is relatively low – a little over 200 Bosque County residents tested positive as of Oct. 30.

Last Thursday, I decided to get tested. I didn’t want to put my husband or my in-laws at risk. I went to the closest town with a medical center, Glen Rose, in adjacent Somervell County. As of Oct. 30, the county has reported 250 total coronavirus cases. Glen Rose Medical Center has set up a “sick clinic” where the testing takes place.

After making an appointment, I arrived, parked in the lot, and called to alert a nurse I was there. She opened the door and motioned me inside. All the medical workers were clothed in head-to-toe protective gear.

She asked questions about my symptoms and took my vitals. I didn’t have any fever. The nurse suggested I stand against the wall for the swab test. “Whatever you do, don’t grab my arm,” she said.

She was quick, inserting the rigid swab far up each nostril into what felt like my brain. My toes curled inside my boots. It was very uncomfortable, but fast.

Afterward, she gave me a tissue in case my nose bled, which it did. “If you’re positive, we’ll call you today,” she said.

Later that afternoon, my cell phone rang. It was the nurse.

“You tested positive,” she said.

I don’t know why, but I was shocked.

Because I had mild symptoms, the clinic didn’t prescribe any medications and suggested I keep taking the over-the-counter sinus and headache meds I’d been using.

“Call us if you have any breathing problems,” the nurse said.

It’s Day Six. I’m still congested and have a weird metallic taste in my mouth and tingling around my lips. I still cannot smell or taste anything, not even Texas barbecue. I have no desire to eat, although I’ve been making myself for strength and nourishment. I’ve lost six pounds in one week. So far, though, I can breathe just fine.

What concerns me, however, is when I drive to nearby towns and see many residents behaving as if COVID doesn’t exist. People were standing in groups close together in front of a church getting ready for its annual fall festival. No one was wearing masks. Some businesses that post signs on their doors stating that masks are required don’t enforce the rule; even employees often don’t wear masks.

Meanwhile, COVID cases in the United States are approaching 100,000 a day as I write this. New coronavirus infections hit a record high in rural counties from Oct. 18 through 24, the fifth week in a row, reported The Daily Yonder, which has been tracking rural coronavirus outbreaks week by week.

In releasing the latest statistics about cases, Glen Rose Medical Center encouraged residents to take precautions.

“Isolated cases of COVID appeared to be the result of incidental contact amongst people in our community,” the medical center reported on Oct. 30. “This type of spread will be exceedingly difficult to control if we cannot get people to be compliant with wearing masks when they are in contact with other people.”

The center repeated its previous advice that wearing a mask can prevent people from spreading the virus unknowingly.

“It is very common that people are contagious for anywhere from one to three days prior to becoming “sick,” the post read. “It is during that time that mask wearing can help protect other people in our community.”

This line in the release should have been boldfaced: “There is significant evidence that mask wearing in our community is near, or at, the lowest level that it is been since the beginning of this pandemic.” Wow.

Whether it’s COVID fatigue or denial, many people are letting their guard down. I let mine down by having lunch with a friend because I thought it was “safe” to eat outside.

With cold weather on the way and more people confined to the indoors, COVID cases likely will continue increasing, experts warn. But I hear so many people dismissing those warnings. Conspiracy theories abound on the Internet.

They may not listen to me, either. But I’m also the face of COVID. I thought I was at low risk because of where I lived. I wore masks. I sanitized my hands and even wore gloves sometimes. I washed my hands for 20 seconds after taking off my gloves. I avoided crowds. I shopped online and got curbside grocery service. I still got COVID.

Thankfully, right now it looks like a mild case, but I don’t know what the future will hold. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried.

Assume others, even friends and family members, have the virus. Don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings and not hug. Explain you want to protect them. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Don’t let down your guard, even if you think you live in a relatively “safe” area.

I’m posting a daily coronavirus journal on my Facebook page. I hope sharing my daily experiences will keep people informed and, hopefully, prevent someone else from contracting the disease. If I can get it, anyone can.

Kathryn Jones is a longtime journalist, former editor of the Glen Rose Reporter and co-director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism.


TCCJ Online Revenue Workshop Program

TCCJ Revenue Workshop: Making Money in the “New Normal”

9 a.m.

Welcome and introductions

Kathryn Jones and Dan Malone

TCCJ Co-directors, live from the Texan News broadcast studio at

Tarleton State University in Stephenville


“Re-Igniting the Post-Covid Sales Conversation With Advertisers” 

Ryan Dohrn

Media sales consultant/ad coach and host of “Ad Sales Nation” podcast

COVID-19 was devastating for most local and regional business owners.  So, how do we as sales pros sympathize, but get back to that much-needed marketing conversation?  Media sales coach Ryan Dohrn will share 7 ways to re-ignite the conversation with style, ideas, and realistic expectations.  From handling objections like COVID has killed our business to the objection of I am too busy now to explaining the “marketing bump” to email templates to perfect post-COVID prospecting times to revised pricing options.  Come prepared to laugh and learn from a media sales pro that still sells today and has touched over half a billion dollars in ad sales over his 30-year career.

10 a.m.

“New Strategies for a New Time”

Kevin James

Director of Special Projects Sales

Moser Community Media, LLC (Brenham)

Kevin will share “out of the box” success stories during this “new normal.” He describes himself as a “positive, upbeat, ‘make lemons out of lemonade’ kind of salesperson and leader,” so Kevin’s presentation will focus on creative ways to engage customers and make deals at a time when so many traditional advertisers face economic challenges themselves.

11 a.m.

“The New Normal of Selling”

Mike Obert

Managing Partner – Sales

Open-Look.com, Richardson, Texas

When so many people are working remotely, traditional workdays are upside down. For sales people, that means having a fluid schedule throughout the day to work in your hours of prospecting and maintaining existing clients. It also means looking for new means to reach readers on behalf of advertisers. Mike will discuss how to use video and leverage social media in the new normal of selling.


“A Year for the Record Books – What’s Working? What’s Not?”

Moderated by Dan Malone and Kathryn Jones

TCCJ Co-directors

The pandemic and statewide lockdown of businesses crashed local economies and put intense new pressures on community journalism outlets and their bottom lines. Newspapers saw website traffic increase, but traditional ad sales plummet. Some were able to secure federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, but that money ran out fast. Some were able to get new grants offered by Facebook and other sources. Some had to cut frequency of print publication. Many had to scramble and find creative ways to survive. Attendees are invited to share their stories about what worked, what did not, and how their business models are changing.

Speaker Biographies

Ryan Dohrn

Ryan is the founder of media sales strategy firm Brain Swell Media and the creator of the 360 Ad Sales System taught to over 20,000 media sales professionals in 7 countries. Ryan works with over 200 newspapers per year and has a deep passion for the community newspaper business. Ryan’s 30-year media sales and marketing career includes leadership roles at PennWell Publishing, Morris Publishing, Disney/ABC TV and The NY Times Company. He is an Emmy Award winner, business book author and has been featured in USA Today and on Forbes.com.


Kevin James

Hailing from Greenville, Texas, the son of a newspaper pressman and a mother who faithfully read her hometown newspaper daily, Kevin has printer’s ink flowing in his veins. He joined MCM in January 2014 as Director of Special Projects, Digital, and Sales Training, and heads up a groupwide VIP initiative.

Although Kevin was heavily involved in his elementary, junior high and high school newspapers, he began his “official” newspaper career as a retail sales rep with the Rockwall Texas Journal-Success in 1993.

In 1997, Kevin was recruited to an advertising account executive opportunity with The Dallas Morning News, working print and digital advertising and focusing on the travel and tourism, real estate, faith-based accounts and automotive segments. After marrying an “Okie,” in 2003 he accepted a position with The Daily Oklahoman/NewsOK.com in Oklahoma City as a digital advertising specialist, developing their first-ever million-dollar digital sales territory.

Moving to Austin 2010 for personal/family reasons, Kevin accepted a multi-media executive position with Cox Media Group/ The Austin American-Statesman where he earned several awards and honors. In 2012 he was recruited to rebuild a major and key accounts territory with Hearst Media/San Antonio Express-News.

In 2013, Kevin was recruited by Stephens Media Corporate Division in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a digital sales consultant/catalyst for their training and sales efforts for their papers nationwide. Kevin worked with such papers as The Las Vegas Review Journal; The Daily World in Aberdeen, Washington; The Sherman Herald-Democrat in Sherman, Texas; The Examiner-Enterprise in Bartlesville, OK; and the Ashboro Courier-Tribune in Ashboro, North Carolina.

Kevin also has served as advertising directors for two local Texas papers – his hometown newspaper, The Greenville Herald Banner (2001), and The Williamson County Sun in Georgetown (2011-2012).

 Mike Obert

Mike began his publishing career in 1992 and has specialized in monetizing magazines through ad sales, distribution and other creative revenue streams. In 2009, Mike began developing offshore publishing solutions for a US-based niche media company out of the Philippines. In three short years, Mike noticed a void in the industry and lack of reliable outsourced options for all publishers, which ignited the vision to create Open Look.

In 2012, Mike and partners formed Open Look, turning void into opportunity. Two years later, Mike created a neighborhood network of community publications that is directly mailed and driven by ad sales. Currently, Mike drives the direction and innovation of Open Look, ensuring the services remain valuable and relevant for the ever-evolving niche media industry.


Virtual Summer Revenue Workshop, Aug. 14

The annual Summer Revenue Workshop conducted by the Texas Center for Community Journalism has been moved to a virtual format for Friday, Aug. 14. It will no longer be held in person at the Hangar Hotel Conference Center in Fredericksburg due to the spread of COVID-19 throughout Texas. However, we’re planning an excellent workshop that you can tune into online. It also will be recorded and archived on the TCCJ website.

This year’s timely theme is “Making Money in the ‘New Normal.’”

As businesses reopen, it’s time to get back to sales conversations. But when so many people are working remotely, their days are upside down. The pandemic and statewide lockdown of businesses crashed local economies and put intense new pressures on community journalism outlets and their bottom lines. Newspapers saw website traffic increase, but traditional ad sales plummet. Some were able to secure federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, that money ran out fast. Some were able to get new grants offered by Facebook and other sources. Some had to cut frequency of print publication. Many had to scramble and find creative ways to survive.

To address these concerns, the line-up of speakers will include Kevin James, director of Special Projects Sales, Moser Community Media, LLC (Brenham); Mike Obert of Open-Look.com in Richardson; and via Skype, Ryan Dohrn, media sales consultant/coach and host of “Ad Sales Nation” podcast. They and TCCJ Co-directors Dan Malone and Kathryn Jones Malone will share insights and advice on new strategies for selling in the “new normal,” latest trends in digital traffic and online ad sales;  social media vs. digital revenues, and alternative sources of revenue.

The workshop will end with an open discussion about some of the creative products and strategies Texas newspapers and their websites have used in this extraordinary time of change. Please share what you’ve tried that worked, what didn’t, and how business models are changing. We can all learn from each other. Email Kathryn front or inside pages, advertising, promotions or links to pages: kathrynjones1956@gmail.com.


WHERE: We’re looking at video conferencing options.

WHEN:  Friday, Aug. 14; times TBA

COST:  FREE. Just fill out the registration form below so we can send you information about the workshop and how to sign on.

REGISTER HERE: Please fill out the registration form. If more than one person from a news organization plans to attend, please register individually.

Virtual Summer Revenue Workshop, Friday, Aug. 14

Virtual Summer Revenue Workshop, Friday, Aug. 14