Our county here remains steady at 30 confirmed cases and no deaths. Governor Sununu has talked about allowing campgrounds to open. If vacation rentals remain off-limits and hotels are restricted as to whom they can rent to, that’s shouldn’t happen. In the Mount Washington Valley, the year-round population is about 20,000 (depending on which towns you include as part of the Valley). When summer comes, there’s easily 60,000 people in town at one time. Normally it’s annoying. With a 25 bed hospital and only 5 ventilators, it could be deadly. Add to that the fact that we probably won’t have any foreign workers this season. J9 employees make up for the fact that in the summer there are a lot of temporary jobs and few locals to take them. The Valley was already hurt by the fact that the numbers of temporary student workers was cut over the last few years. Not having them at all will mean businesses aren’t staffed for the usual number of tourists. I don’t think we’d have “the usual number” anyway. With a vaccine at least 1-2 years in the future, many people will stay home; others will visit anyway.
Which brings me to my point today. I watch the debates about “opening up the country” again and have mixed feelings. When the quarantines and stay-at-home orders began in March, it was never about preventing people from getting the Corona virus. It was about “flattening the curve” so hospitals and medical workers weren’t overwhelmed by sick people. Now, suddenly, people seem to think we should be staying at home until there’s a vaccine.
Simply put, we can’t afford it. Other countries, that are more socially conscious, might be able to do that. The USA is not “the greatest country in the world” in that area. Despite the promises of getting money to small businesses, the big businesses managed to get much of the funding out of the stimulus package that was passed, leaving the small businesses we were told it was for shut out of the money. The only person I know so far who’s actually collected unemployment filed right at the beginning and it took 3 weeks to get a check, and this was before retail and restaurants were shuttered. I’ve been out almost 3 weeks already and can’t even get a claim approved so far.
My tenants – already on the edge – have one person working still in a household that has 4 adults and haven’t seen another penny. They are living by the fact that I’m not getting rent right now and they were given a grocery store card by one of the employers. That employer is considering reopening since it falls under the restaurants category and can keep it at take-out. The reason isn’t so much business-related as it is making sure his employees have food.
You see, being able to think about staying in your home until there’s a vaccine is quite a privilege. People don’t grasp that. When it comes to a choice between starving and the virus, people will take their chances with the virus. Six thousand families in their cars lined up a week ago in San Antonio for food that would hopefully carry them through the end of the month – then what happens?
Simply put, this country has to open up again. Not for the idiots who were protesting in Michigan about “rights” who were likely put up to it by people who are looking to profit off of the current situation. It has to open up before people are starving. It has to open up because we’re not as “great” as countries in Europe where they can likely remain quarantined for a longer period (although there’s beginning to be more people out and about there as well from what I hear from my friends). Simply put, human beings are a social species and even those of us who are introverts need a connection at times.
If you have the privilege of saying you can stay isolated until there’s a vaccine, that’s great for you and your family. You’re still depending on other people to deliver food to your home (and to the stores) and keep the power on and the water flowing. There are workers who have to be out there and are putting themselves at risk so you can have that privilege. I’d rather go to the store myself than ask someone else to take the risk for me. I’d rather open up the country slowly – to try to keep the curve flat – than ask people to starve.
When people can’t feed their families, they will riot. That will not be pretty.