I try my best to not involve myself in political banter, especially on social media, but today marks the third day in a row that I have read an article of yet another restaurant closing its doors in this state. This does not even include the small “Ma and Pa” shops that will never reopen their doors, deemed not newsworthy enough to grace the pages of our local newspaper. The name of the newspaper may change, but the story reads the same across the country. Minute by minute, we are losing small businesses at an alarming rate. For many of us we are left wondering not if, but rather when we will be next.
“We are all in this together” has become the slogan of Covid-19. Business owners are accused of being selfish or putting money before lives simply because they want to salvage what is left, certainly doesn’t ring the sound of togetherness. It is a very easy task to agree with the forcible shutdown of businesses and the economy when you continue to receive a paycheck and I have a feeling many opinions would shift, if required to forego their entire income for 8 weeks with no possible end in sight.
However, this would require empathy within all of this togetherness. The act of understanding another person’s experience and situation may be very different from your own. Compassion for families wanting to keep what they have sacrificed and worked hard to build, for years. Grace for these same families, as they only ask for the opportunity to attempt to rescue what little is left from their livelihoods. We all value human life, but starvation kills just as easily as illness and it seems many have forgotten the effects of famine on the human body and spirit. This is not about money, it is about survival.
My husband and I, we are some of the fortunate ones. If our income was currently measured by the heart and support of our loyal customers, soccer and baseball families, friends and community, we would be millionaires at the end of all of this. While our business has received continued support in its limited working capacity, it is not a sustainable business model. We can only accomplish so much with our table and chairs empty inside. The mortality rate of small businesses will far exceed the mortality rate for this disease. These lives deserve your consideration also.
We understand the effects of death on a family. We mourn the loss of anyone that has fallen to this virus, but we cannot run for the rest of our lives. When will it ever be enough? Wouldn’t it be possible to balance this equation by allowing those vulnerable to remain at home and those in desperate need of providing for their families the opportunity to do so? I posed this question once to a woman who said she feared going to work because her mother and husband were immune compromised and she would be afraid to bring illness back to her home. She would lose her job if her employer opened and she did not return. In other words, I am to continue sacrificing my income so you won’t need to lose yours? Doesn’t really sound like “we are all in this together”.
In March we were told by our Governor that we needed to take one for the team, close down for 2 weeks so our healthcare system was not overwhelmed. This announcement happened to come the day before our busiest day of the year. No problem, we knew we would never recoup that money, but we were willing to do what was being asked of us. Then, an additional 2 weeks was to allow for hospitals to be fully prepared with proper PPE, equipment, testing… Next, a couple more weeks because we needed to see 2 weeks of downward trends in hospitalizations and ICU admittance. Now, when a check mark sits beside each of these, the Governor transfers the decision to county leaders. Our County Executive releases a statement that we still need PPE, equipment and increased testing capabilities before we can even begin to enter Phase 1, directly following the Governor’s announcement that the state now has enough of all of this.
So which one is it fellas? Do we have enough or do we not enough? Where are the 500,000 tests that we overpaid for? Do we need to have hospitalizations decrease over a 2 week period to reopen or not? If you cannot test enough people, how do you know the true number of people that have already been infected and recovered? Where are those antibody tests? Might be helpful to know how many people you are illegally forcing to stay home that are not in danger of becoming ill or infecting anyone else.
There are dangers all around us, every day; but we find a way to work together to minimize the effects. We do not split up, run in different directions and hide. This has never been an effective solution in the past and certainly isn’t one now. Despite pool drowning deaths, I never kept my children from ever entering a pool. Instead, I explained the dangers and taught them to swim.
I will no longer allow my family to be used as a pawn in your political chess match, and that is exactly what this has turned into. I, along with many other citizens, are no longer willing to move around the board to keep the King safe. You were elected as a public servant. To serve, protect and hold the best interests of ALL those you govern. I urge you to re-read those words carefully and be sure this is your only concern when developing an approach to reopen. There is no reason to sacrifice any of your pieces. We are all important to the success of our state, counties and communities. It is becoming clearer every day that the basis of these decisions are fueled more from political agendas and less from the needs and well-being of those who trusted you to objectively hold your office. Remember, the king is only as valuable as all the pieces willing to move to protect him.