For the danger of high water and flooding there are decades of experience, reams of procedures, hundreds of public servants who know what they’re to do.
For a virus at the level of pandemic? You’re starting from scratch, to some degree. Our response has been thrown together quickly and a bit willy-nilly.
We understand as well as anyone that this is a complicated thing, not simple to understand, hard to deal with and miles from any sort of consensus. And we’re all tired of it. It’s just that ... we’re listening to responses from candidates for public office, and we’re left wishing for more. The exemplary leadership we’re seeing on the local level is coming from our public health officials and volunteers with charitable organizations. That’s not enough.
When we query local elected officials about what to do in the face of this COVID-19 crisis:
-- In some manner of speaking they indicate that if we wait just a little while longer, eventually the monster will creep back into the closet and the crisis will be over. They’re not intending to say that; but that’s sort of how it comes out.
-- They communicate that all the bad responses to the pandemic are the fault of the governor and his minions at licensing bureaus and what we ought to do is get the economy opened up again.
Well, what if this thing goes on for a lot longer -- another six months, or a year, or even longer -- before a vaccine is widely available? And what if opening all the way up really isn’t a practical way to proceed unless we’re willing to accept a surge in cases and a higher death count?
What do we need leaders to do? We don’t know. How could they effectively sound off about state government’s lack of empathy? Could there be lawsuits to file? Petitions? Caravans? If local leaders were to advocate for businesses to go ahead and open up at any tier, what could they do to provide legal cover? Would there have to be enforcement of protocols at some point so we don’t have another surge? Do we have to reassess our risk toleration? How else could we help businesses that are going under? How do we help the unemployed who are getting nothing from state or federal programs? How do we support the NGOs that are out there right now gathering food and necessities for people?
Right answers? We don’t have it figured out. But real ideas about what we could be doing next, what we could be doing a month from now or six months from now could help.
A few leaders are throwing ideas out there -- our Assemblyman James Gallagher, for instance. We’d like to see more elected officials throwing out ideas on how to cope, survive, recover. Ironically, one of the things we need is some group-think and one of the things that this pandemic inhibits is collaboration.
But we need to think of more than what we’ve already done, how to wait it out, what to complain about. If we’re giving it everything we’ve got now, what are we going to be doing in a few more months?
Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.