Celebrating America amid adversity

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Independence Day has always been an anticipated day of celebration in our country, regardless of circumstances. America is a good and great nation. This year, the Fourth of July will be like none other with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

I was very disappointed, as I am sure many of you were, to learn Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday again locked down indoor operations of restaurants along with a handful of other operations in 19 of the 58 counties. San Bernardino County was included on the mandated closure list. To ensure implementation of these closure orders, we were told that the State’s “Multi-Agency Strike Teams” will be deployed.

Adding to this complex situation, the California Legislature has also abdicated its authority and oversight responsibility by giving the governor sole authority to admonish local governments for any perceived infractions by revoking funding for alleged disregard of the state’s stay-at-home order, Executive Orders, and Department of Public Health orders. It is remarkable that the state is willing to wield its power on struggling employers and small businesses, many of whom have gone to great expense and preparation to ensure their business is compliant with the newly required health and safety protocols.

This broad-brush approach denies the truth that the virus spreads differently within communities in a given county. San Bernardino County is both urban, suburban and rural. First District data, for instance, shows that it has consistently fared better than other areas due to its more rural environment, and that should be recognized in state edicts, but it’s not.

Restaurants that held on during the previous lockdown scaled up again with the reopening. Staff was rehired and food purchased as they prepared to welcome their customers back. With the new lockdown limiting service, a single, struggling restaurant could easily lose up to $30,000 in fresh food lost to spoilage. And the newly rehired staff will have to once again apply for unemployment benefits, which will probably kick in around the time this anticipated three-week lockdown expires.

Policymakers should consider both the benefits and the human suffering that these lockdowns cause. California would benefit greatly from a balanced, commonsense approach that takes a comprehensive look at all costs of the lockdowns. That would be something we could all celebrate.