Welcome to a new year, and a new mission for our opinion pages! You may have noticed we have been running less opinion content in general. In case you missed it, that's a deliberate decision. We announced on Sunday, that we would move to running opinion content in print on Fridays and Sundays, with an emphasis on local letters, columns and editorials.
One of the changes announced was a new name for our Group Editorials: Town Hall.
We all know town halls are an exciting part of politics: They involve candidates meeting us where we are, and where we live. It's an opportunity for our voices to be heard, and a chance to put politicians on the spot to ask the questions that matter to us most.
The same concept applies here in our opinion section.
My hope is that Pocono Record Town Hall columns will represent something similar. Like with Group Editorials, we will ask you, our readers, to respond to a hot topic. These hot topics will be decided by myself as editor, based on the current news cycle, or your own suggestions sent via email. We will publish responses as space allows, and if we get a good turnout, I'll reach out to local politicians and ask them the same question.
In December, we asked you if you thought inflation was impacting your holiday.
Reader Tim Sanders of East Stroudsburg suggested the prompt, and we thought it was a thoughtful question. We got zero responses. Perhaps that is not a topic you'd rather see us discuss as a group, and that's OK. We may come back to the topic of inflation again in the future, but right now it seems that the COVID-19 pandemic is rising back up as a top concern in our area.
This week's prompt
Things have changed over the past few weeks. The Omicron variant has pushed our daily case counts in Monroe County and the Poconos to new heights, shattering records and dampening the recent holiday for some.
The data tells us this: vaccinated or not, you can still catch COVID-19. This is largely undisputed. However, we also know that vaccines and booster shots greatly improve the chances of developing only mild symptoms of COVID. Long story short: It's better to have some protection, than none at all.
COVID cases in Monroe County are at an all-time high, but there are fewer mitigations required by the Pennsylvania government now when compared to the start of the pandemic.
This week's prompt, should you choose to accept it: Is it time for Governor Tom Wolf to step in and reimpose COVID-19 mitigation mandates? Why or why not?
Participants should email submissions to be included in our next roundup, between 200 and 400 words, to Managing Editor Ashley Fontones at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Town Hall" in the subject line.
Submissions get an edit for grammar and AP style. The deadline to submit for our next Town Hall is noon on Thursday, Jan. 20.
If you aren't into sharing your thoughts, share your vote in this week's Town Hall poll. Vote online at poll.fm/11016218, or right here at PoconoRecord.com.
I look forward to reading your thoughts on this topic! Stay safe out there, Poconos.
Ashley Fontones is the Managing Editor at Pocono Record. Reach her at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Pocono Record: Town Hall: The Pocono Record wants to hear from you