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Who has had enough?


April 30, 2020

DAYTON–Okay. We’ve made it through April.

Governor Jay Inslee had set May 4 as a decision day for Washington State.

We’ll see.

Inslee put all counties in a “Stay Home – Stay Healthy” lockdown, listing certain businesses and occupations as “essential.” This week, he opened up residential construction, recreational fishing, golf courses and other outdoor activities.

It’s about time.

The problem with COVID-19 is its unknown characteristics of contagiousness and how it preys on people with underlying medical conditions, primarily the elderly. We don’t want to harm our senior citizens or those with health problems that would be susceptible if infected.

All through this month, the talk has been “flatten the curve.” March’s and early April’s fears centered around overly taxing hospitals and health-care personnel. We were behind the curve on supplies of PPE, had a huge surge of patients hit hospitals in places like New York City.

The governor, whose concern seems to be with his constituency in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, has applied a “one size fits all” plan to the state.

The rest of you 36 counties get on board, too, because we’re all in this together.

Okay, we’ve done that. Now Governor Inslee needs to give certain counties the green light next Monday.

Several states are moving ahead with commerce, some in defiance, because their governors see the damage being wreaked on the communities as worse than the disease.

That is so true. Washington’s potato growers, who supply restaurants with French fries and tater tots, are swimming in excess product because restaurants have been shuttered since February. They’re giving away 20 tons of spuds. They’ve not only got too much in storage, they need to move the perishable potatoes or lose them.

Remember: some of these spud farmers have spent labor and fuel to prepare fields for this year’s crop, even having ordered and paid for seed potatoes. Now they’re between a rock and a hard spot, having invested in a new crop with no market, and it’s too late to plant an alternate crop.

If you’re a potato farmer in the Columbia Basin, you’re up the creek without a paddle.

That’s just the potato industry. Restaurants are especially hard hit. Some have closed; some may take years to get caught back up.

Examples abound but the bottom line is it’s time for Governor Inslee to make the hard decision and reopen the economy. “Turn the dial?” We hope he turns it fast.

Leaders are often called upon to make life or death decisions. Presidents in the past have known that their decision of sending troops to war will mean soldiers will get killed. Reopening business in Washington on a fast track probably will mean additional deaths, and that will be tragic. Each and every life is precious and no one is minimizing that.

But the resultant damage is too extensive, too far-reaching. We’ve got to get back to business.

And maybe we all wear masks until the science of testing—both sick people and well people—catches up, so that we can learn quickly if COVID-19 is in our ranks.


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