Bold Action in the Time of Covid

As the world was closing without warning in March 2020, we were closing our June issue. The pandemic was new and spreading quickly, and people were scared and uninformed. For our future July issue, I had previously assigned to one of our Editors at Large an as-told-to interview feature on Julia Cheek, the CEO of Austin-based home-test health startup Everlywell. The week everyone began working from home, our reporter learned that Cheek had entered the race to build a scalable Covid-test. In the middle of the scramble to set up our newsroom remotely, I asked our photo department to expedite the photos on Cheek and told our reporter that if he could file the story in time, it would run a month early, potentially on the cover. He filed three days before we started shipping the magazine to the printer. People were frightened—why can’t we find anywhere to get tested frightened. For all of the pieces I’d read on the pandemic, Cheek’s recollection of her struggle to build a testing process was the first narrative that gave me a real understanding of what was happening — why we didn’t have any tests; and what would it would take for us to access them. I called our Editor-in-Chief and told him that we needed Cheek’s story as our June cover. So we pulled a feature that was hours away from shipping, and our art and photo departments had the new feature on Cheek and a new cover for the June issue laid out in a day.

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