Since the President’s press conference about opening the economy back up again, it seems that both sides of the political spectrum have come up with plans that won’t work for anybody here in New Mexico. Most Republicans want the COVID-19 restrictions lifted and for life to return to “normal”. This is an absurd plan that cares more about the economy than the people of this state. Most Democrats want the state to remain shut down indefinitely until this virus has mostly run its course or until testing improves. This is also a poor plan that will destroy many lives and small businesses due to lost income. The state cannot save every small business, or pay rent/mortgage for every person unemployed due to this shutdown.
So what is the right answer? I don’t think anyone really knows the “right” answer. We have to ensure the safety of our those most vulnerable to COVID-19, while trying to ease our way back in to some sense of “normal”. The state has to come up with a plan that isn’t political grandstanding over wrongly perceived rights infringements or the assumption that the government (state or federal) is going to take care of us.
Here is what I would do at this moment: Remove the “essential business” requirements and let business owners go back to work. They can choose whether to be open or how they do business. At least they can do SOME business. Keep the public gathering and stay at home policies in place. These are intended to minimize the spread of the virus and are working as intended. Have hospitals that aren’t overloaded with dealing with COVID-19 patients return to somewhat normal operations, with proper precautions in place. This can hopefully prevent more hospital layoffs. After 3-4 weeks, if cases haven’t spiked, then easing of the gathering restrictions could begin in phases. I would also ensure that tenants (business and residential) have at minimum of 1 year to pay back rent that may have been missed due to COVID-19 restrictions before evictions can proceed. If you remove the restrictions all at once we will see a massive spike in cases, so we have to be methodical and reasonable in the approach to easing restrictions.
That’s just my thoughts. I don’t have any doubts that there may be flaws in my reasoning and that there may be a better path out of this. I’m not an economics Or public health expert, nor do I have advisors that can aid me in that department. I just cannot sit silently watching the GOP beat their chests screaming “freedom” while ignoring the consequences of their proposed actions. The party values seem to put money ahead of human lives. I also cannot sit by and watch as the economy crumbles beneath us while most Democrats want to keep everything shut down for an indefinite time period.
We need to understand both sides of this issue, and realize that behind all the rhetoric and party values that BOTH sides bring reasonable arguments to the table (not all of the arguments are reasonable, but some). We NEED to start opening the economy again, but it must be methodical and calculated. We NEED to protect our vulnerable population and those affected in many ways by this virus. This whole mess sucks, let’s get through it together.