The Current State of Things

An Essay by Nica Knite

COVID & it’s restrictions… That’s “Whats on my mind.” Most who know me realize that I rarely use FB or any Social Media (though with COVID it’s been a little more common for me to do so). Oftentimes “my posts” or “my biz posts” are actually our team members! But based on the COVID RESTRICTIONS, I want to break from my norm by posting something that is a long-ish read (8-9 minutes) and clearly state my position.

First, I absolutely believe that the CV is a deadly threat. I’ve closely watched individuals suffer from it, both friends & family. I’ve lost a friend to it (42 with no underlying factors). I am “at risk” and it scares the beegeezus out of me. So, WHY, I’m being asked, would you and yours even mention whether or not the restrictions are an issue of constitutionality…I’m glad you asked.

It’s precisely BECAUSE the restrictions, the way they are developed and applied, are unconstitutional. The various unfettered actions of many leaders are setting precedents that I find terrifying, and I believe would and should be so to anyone paying attention with rational consideration. [For the record: I was not opposed to a shut down. In fact, I cannot help but think that a complete & total shutdown of everything – push “pause” on ALL commerce & billing – a true, effective halting of everything, by everyone for a few weeks, would have done the job. No one pays, no one earns. And then push “play” so we can all pick up where we left off. I know this would be complex. But then the gazillions of $$ in resources spent could have focused on assuring that everyone had REAL necessities – utilities, food, medical supplies & nothing else. But since that’s not what happened, I turn to other matters of grave concern.]

The restrictions as applied stand little to no chance of directly delivering the desired outcomes. Walmart, Lowes & Shopping Malls have not been required to utilize even the most basic safety and sanitation procedures that have been used by the restaurant, gym & personal care services industries for decades. Nor have they implemented the more stringent requirements placed upon these industries in the face of COVID.

During COVID operations in restaurants, if a bottle of hot sauce or salt & pepper shakers are placed on a table and/or used by one party, those items are removed from the dining room by staff with oft sanitized hands, taken to a sanitation station, sanitized & air dried before another party can touch them. Guests are constantly monitored for adherence to mask & social distance requirements, as well as whether their group is household limited. Additionally, contact tracing info is recorded for every guest coming into the facility. EVERYTHING touched by guests – chairs, tables, menus, pens, door handles, etc – is frequently & repeatedly sanitized. Similar standards are used in gyms & salons.

So where are the monitors in Walmart? Who’s at the door asking “Do you all live in the same house?” Where is the “log” for recording date, name & phone number for all who enter there? Where are the staff monitors in every aisle assuring that customers don’t stop & browse too close together, or turn their mask into a “chin diaper,” or remove it while in the backend of the store? And what about the “cyclone sanitizers?” – you know, the staff chasing after every guest, sanitizing every product or item that the guest touches that does not ultimately end up in their cart? Who is assuring that no “non-essential shopping” is happening? Or are you saying fuzzy dice for your rearview mirror are essential? How about all those billions of Amazon packages? and the exposure of the millions of employees working to make, package, ship and deliver those non-essential goods?

The “broad brush strokes” classifying entire counties or regions on one side, while “picking & choosing” specific sectors for restrictions do not work. In some of our backcountry communities, there is no supermarket for 30+ miles, temperatures are too cold for any outside service, and we have a significant lack of access to important resources. So applying rules that force those of us in low risk areas to travel into higher risk zones for resources, or to create a hazard (breakfast in 22 degrees, anyone?) is not rational.

The disparity in requirements for “safety,” the classifications about what is essential, and the failure to comprehensively address the real concerns in an effective way not only do not pass the laugh test, there is clearly an egregious inequitability to it all.

The restrictions as applied are “arbitrary & capricious” and result in the “inequitable” treatment of our small businesses. This is unconstitutional. Small businesses are the life’s blood of our communities & the backbone of the economy. And important to note that in most cases, the impacts to these biz are every bit as painful for the staff & staff members’ families as for the biz owners themselves.

Beyond the affects to our businesses and the fiscal health of all affected, there are numerous other disastrous consequences. The rise in addiction, depression, anxiety, domestic violence and more tell us that, beyond concerns about CV, the physical and emotional health of our people are greatly imperiled. Not to mention, the piecemeal approach and the “on-again off-again” application of the restrictions create a psychological crisis that significantly exacerbates the impacts. Ever heard of the Dr. Skinner pigeon study & the Skinner Box?

I am not saying I have better answers or perfect solutions. I am saying that when things are so obviously skewed to favor the multi-gazillion $$ conglomerates, and that this disparate treatment results in millions of employees’ continuing exposure,  as well as undermining of any potential positive effect of the whole program, and other specific sectors being completely gutted, something ain’t right. And when that “wrong” clearly violates our constitutional rights, I cannot sit by and say or do nothing.

Important to note that not only is there no widely accepted scientific or other evidence to support the singling out of Restaurants, Salons & Gyms, but the data & science specifically & clearly indicate that it is the very businesses that are favored by the orders – Big Boxes, Amazon etc. – where the problems lay.  In fact, CA Health Secretary has gone on the record in writing & in press conferences stating that the closure of restaurants is not because the threat comes from restaurants, but rather to “send the message” to the public that they should stay home. 

We (small businesses) are being asked to SACRIFICE for the good of our fellow man. I am not opposed to such sacrifices and am thankful every day for the benefits I experience because of the generous & valiant sacrifices of our ancestors – civil liberties in US for all races; womens’ voting rights; and so many other things. Those sacrifices gave tremendous value.  But if we sacrifice our small business and the livelihoods of all of our staff & ourselves – it has NO VALUE. As long as the Big Boxes, Airline Travel, Amazon & other large online retailers continue to operate, perpetuating the risk exposure for the vast majority of the populous, closing restaurants accomplishes nothing except making us a valuless sacrificial lamb. That’s not acceptable. 

One last comment about these “goings on”… I am appalled by many behaviors, attitudes and actions not just on “both sides”, but on “every side” of the political spectrum. Our lives, our livelihoods, our communities, and our comprehensive individual and collective well-beings are at stake – literally. So to those using any part of this as the soap box on which you stand to further your party politics, shame on you. If there was ever a time to reach across the aisle with civility, dignity, understanding, compassion and a mind to truly listening to and hearing “the other side’s perspective,” it is now.

I know posts on these topics can be fodder for all sorts of incendiary reactions. So to all you haters out there, know now that I will not engage. I’m just using this platform to explain my perspective after being asked about it by many in a short period of time.

I truly wish health, safety, sanity and peace for each and every one of you during this unimaginable, and now unforgettable, time of crisis & concern.

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