Dear valued subscriber,
Shocking, dark, grim, deadly. These terms were among many which described the past week as coronavirus cases spread like wildfire across Victoria.
The virus claimed the lives of 52 Victorians between Sunday and Friday, the state's health department said, as the death toll hit 112. Sadly, a Portland man in his 50s was among those, the region's first fatality. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this awful time.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced new restrictions for regional Victorians. After midnight on Sunday it will be compulsory for all south-west residents to wear masks or face coverings when out in public. There are of course some exceptions for people who cannot because of medical conditions, those aged under 12 and during some activities but from Monday our world will be a different place.
Many have already heeded the health advice and are wearing masks. But there will be a few who wrongly protest. This week's events, especially the tragic death at Portland, is a grim reality check for us all.
If anyone doubted the virus' lethal consequences, they cannot anymore. The speed and ease COVID-19 spreads is alarming. So too its deadly nature. This is not fear mongering - the week's events speak volumes.
Good management and good fortune spared the south-west from the realities of COVID-19 for almost four months. But that changed this week for the worse. While Warrnambool has one active case, nearby neighbours in Glenelg and Colac Otway shires are far worse off. Colac Otway's mayor this week called for the municipality to be locked down. Portland District Health chief executive officer Chris Giles urged people to take precautions and get tested.
"COVID-19 has no vaccine and no cure, anyone who gets this virus is at risk of life long complications, or even death, I want to stop this virus moving insidiously through our community, but if I can't find the people infected I can't slow and ultimately stop the spread," she said.
It's up to us all. Please wear masks, practice good hygiene and get tested if you have symptoms. Our lives depend on it.
Finding stories without a link to COVID-19 was difficult this week, junior footy and netball season over after just two rounds, masks sparkling a sewing frenzy andNoorat Show's cancellation for the first time in more than 85 years. And of course there was our story about the haybale display with a powerful message (see above picture from our photographer Mark Witte).
October's council elections are heating up already with former Port Fairy publican Damian Gleeson announcing his intention to stand for a seat at the Moyne Shire table. In Warrnambool, where the field is expected to be large given the city council's issues, two business owners have put their hats in the ring, Tracey Togni and Ben Blain.
The city council revealed this week the cost of sacking its CEO will be disclosed in next year's annual report. But a state MP says the council needs to fess up to ratepayers sooner.
It was a big week for Mortlake, a double dose of good news with the town's power station to undergo a $250m expansion. This will help ease shortages in peak periods and provide jobs in the next couple of years during construction. It's great to see the town's former Clarke's Pies factory has been put to good use with a joint venture creating 15 jobs there.
South West Healthcare unveiled a strategic plan for the next four years, including its hopes for major upgrades at both Warrnambool and Camperdown hospitals.
There were some feel-good stories this week. This one about Elizabeth Hurley, no, not the famous one, celebrating her 100th birthday, is worth a read, so too this one about aged care residents and this one about a town smashing stigmas associated with mental health and doing something positive through Let's Talk.
We were delighted with the response to our product of the year hamper giveaway and the feedback from those who entered. Our lucky winner was Warrnambool's Sam Watts. Keep an eye out for more giveaways in coming weeks.
Until next week,