Today's Paper Digital FAQ Obits Newsletters Enter the Fish Story Contest 🎣 NWA Vaccine Information NWA Screening Sites Virus Interactive Map Coronavirus FAQ Crime Razorback Sports Today's Photos Puzzles

GREG HARTON: Will covid-19 be 'person of the year?'

by Greg Harton | May 17, 2020 at 1:00 a.m.

A few random thoughts after another week in covid-19's alternative universe:

• Do you think Dr. Anthony Fauci might be Time's Person of the Year for 2020? He's certainly a name most of us didn't know when the new year came in, but none of us are likely to forget his name for many years to come. What a task he's had in trying to guide the nation through a pandemic with reliable, science-based information while navigating the world of politics that is necessarily a part of managing the American response to covid-19.

Or it could be President Trump. He earned the title for 2016 with his seemingly improbable transition from arrogant rich guy known for his flashy opulence to the Republican nominee and eventual winner of the presidency. The magazine says its pick isn't necessarily meant as an honor, but as a measure of a person's impact that year. Has Trump's impact been significant enough for him to repeat?

Maybe the magazine will do that oddball thing it's done a couple of times: pick an object as person/thing of the year. It was the computer in 1982 and the "endangered Earth" in 1988. If that's the case, the no-brainer cover image of the winner will be that prickly representation of the coronavirus. Who can beat the impact of the coronavirus?

We're not even halfway through the year, so a lot can happen. I really just don't want to even consider that something could make a bigger impact than covid-19 in the second half of 2020, unless it goes to a researcher who discovers a vaccine.


In the now-rare instances in which I get out and about, traffic congestion around Fayetteville hasn't been a big issue. I"m assuming it's been radically reduced elsewhere, too, as a lot of us work from home.

Now that we're not clogging our streets and highways, consider how much time and energy is wasted with those longer commutes between home and office. Is this an opportunity to rethink how a lot of work gets done in Northwest Arkansas, in America?

I'm not sure of the answers, but if a lot of us where able to just cut our drives to the office to, say, half the number of times as before covid-19 forced us into working from home, wouldn't that be progress?


Speaking of crowding, Northwest Arkansas isn't getting any less populated. A few weeks back, regional planners predicted we'll have 1 million residents -- double the number of today -- by 2045.

Does that necessarily mean our towns are going to become asphalt and concrete jungles?

Some may remember introduction of the so-called Open Space Plan last fall by a coalition of people and groups concerned that Northwest Arkansas' naturals spaces could disappear amid the development pressures brought on by the continuing influx of people. The plan was funded with a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

A short while back I got the opportunity to visit with Terri Lane, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, which works to conserve natural areas in the region through legal easements. That visit became the most recent edition of our "Speaking of Arkansas" podcast.

If you haven't gotten into podcasts yet, it's worth a try. There a world of fantastic information out there, and podcasts are great for listening on car trips, or as educational material, or even like the radio as background information while you do other things.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette offers podcasts ranging from outdoors (Flip Putthoff) to entertainment (Becca Martin or Jocelyn Murphy) at and, of course, Razorback podcasts at

I've shortened a URL for the Terri Lane interview to make it easier to get to. Check it out at

Commentary on 05/17/2020

Print Headline: Will covid-19 be 'person' of the year?'


Sponsor Content