Robin Trembath: Return our civil liberties to us
While the COVID-19 pandemic started out to be a frightening event based on what we were witnessing on the news in Italy and then in New York, the bigger pandemic now is the loss of our freedom.
It is frightening to consider that we have allowed our liberties to be taken away from us by an unelected official. Dr. Ken Cutler, public health officer, is the one who issued the county’s official “Stay At Home” order that is posted on the county’s website. While other rural counties have stood up to the governor and requested that they be allowed to open their counties back up, Nevada County was not among them.
There is no indication this county has taken any steps to push for our freedom to move about and for our businesses to reopen, even if it is done with guidelines for minimizing the risk of further spread of the virus.
The county’s order, last signed on April 27 and extended to May 15, severely restricts our basic civil liberties. Among answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” posted on the county’s website are the following restrictions: “You cannot invite friends over to your home to hang out” (this means not even one or two friends); “You cannot take unnecessary trips … in your car or motorbike” (this means you can’t just go for a drive to get out of your house and see some scenery); You cannot “leave home to visit friends or family members if there is no urgent need” (this means you can’t have your adult son or daughter over for dinner or for any other reason, unless they are taking care of you). Further, “If you leave Nevada County for vacation or another reason that is not an essential purpose exempt under the Order, then you may not be permitted to return to your residence” (this means you can’t go visit your children in a less restrictive county and expect to come back to your home).
Make no mistake about it: This is not just an advisory; it’s an order. Per the FAQ: “What happens if I don’t comply with this order? Answer: You can be fined or imprisoned.”
As of the time I am writing this, our county of 97,019 people has had 41 documented cases of the virus. This means 0.04% of the residents of the county have tested positive for the virus, and that doesn’t factor in those who likely had it and either had no symptoms or had mild symptoms and were never tested. Only two of those who tested positive have not yet fully recovered. Getting the virus is not enough to cause people to lose their liberties; we get viruses ever year.
The county has had one death from the virus, which is 0.001% of the population. While one death is tragic, is it enough to warrant such restrictions on our freedom? In the meantime, our hospitals and medical facilities are under-utilized and likely hemorrhaging financially, local shops and restaurants are suffering, and we are all cooped up in our homes and either breaking the law by visiting with a few family members, or getting extremely fatigued by our lack of freedom.
I never thought I would see the day where government officials told me that I could be arrested for going on a Sunday drive, or having friends or family visit me in my home. It’s beyond time to end this lunacy.
It appears that our public health officer and our elected officials are failing to take action, likely out of fear that they would be blamed for a death if they were to reopen this county and return basic civil liberties to its 97,019 residents. Let’s stop living and acting out of fear, and return to living in hope and freedom.
Robin Trembath lives in Nevada City.
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