Our View: A county that yearns to reopen
And the words on everyone’s lips: When do we reopen?
Everyone’s itching for it. You can see increased traffic on the roads and crowded parking lots at the stores that remain open. Grass Valley and Nevada City have reopened trails in Condon and Pioneer parks.
It’s time, they say, it’s time.
People are ready for regular life to return. But the question is, should it?
The answer is nuanced, and not easy.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has a timeline, though it’s smudged at the edges, for reopening the state. He had to release something. People are willing to obey for so long, and no longer. Give us a taste of freedom or we’re likely to storm the beaches, then sit within six feet of one another while drinking alcohol.
That urge to reopen is seen in a request from six rural counties — Nevada County, which had 41 cases as of Friday, isn’t one of them — that asks Newsom to let them return to normal. These six counties have 69 cases of COVID-19 between them. Fifty of those people have recovered.
The underlying message, of course, is that a vise-like closure of the state shouldn’t be one size fits all.
There’s some truth to that. With almost 40 million people in the state, our multitude of governments resembles a Frankenstein J. Alfred Prufrock, wobbling between decisions and revisions with no uniformity. All we want to do is get out and eat a peach.
Now, add Nevada County to this laboratory creation. Our health officials have been carrying Newsom’s water pretty well, though they’re reluctant to release information other counties provide willingly. Namely, the areas within our county where people have the virus.
We know how many live in eastern county (29) and western (12), but not specific areas. New information has been provided recently — the number of recovered (38) and active cases (2) — yet other details remain shielded.
County officials cite privacy concerns, though El Dorado County doesn’t share those and tells its residents the general location of positive cases.
It seems one size fits all is fine when it comes to restrictions to the pubic’s movements, but not with sharing information with the public. That’s a poor way of building public trust.
If we can’t trust our government to be forthcoming with information like that, why should we trust its decisions about when and how to reopen?
The North State is obviously different from Los Angeles, and we need a different plan for reopening. That’s what this really comes down to: a concrete plan created by an informed government that walks the line between public safety and economic health.
That’s the nuance — finding the right date, or set of dates, to reopen our businesses while balancing people’s health and the knowledge that one day, if government can’t figure this out, some people will just stop obeying the rules.
Look close and you’ll see our government actually has done a pretty good job with this situation. The cases in our county are low. County officials have stepped up with a relief fund. The people who live in this county are following the stay-at-home order and doing things right.
In many respects we can be proud of the people who serve in local elected office.
But those same people must recognize the reality of what happens when a quarantine lasts too long, and what a population used to doing what it wants gets restless.
Look now. You can see the words forming on their lips.
The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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