Covid-19 is proof that cities and local governments are how we as a nation will continue to thrive. Mayors, governors and local council members are at the hub of the pandemic. Governor Pritzker from Illinois called all retired and former medical staff to return to the job to save his state’s citizens. Governor Newsom of California called one of the first shelter in place orders for a state. City Manager Quan of Fresno was well ahead of other mayors asking for a shelter in place on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020. It’s the leaders on the local level that have the most impact on our lives. Yet, they are ignoring history in allowing non-essential services to continue, mainly the restaurant industry.
In 1918 the Spanish Flu was handled by cities in very different manners with Philadelphia throwing parades while St. Louis shut down all buildings. There was a drastic difference in the amount of sick in both cities-Philly having 4500 deaths from the Flu. We learned from urban historical records that a shutdown decreases death. The federal government has not utilized these trends well. They have not ordered shutdowns of restaurants for delivery or carry-out. If we have learned anything thus far is Covid-19 spreads easily and quickly. We should have a shutdown of food places since they are merely options for eating while keeping more people on the streets and at work.
The decision to economically cripple states and cities shouldn’t be on the shoulders of only local politicians. It’s time the federal government uses the knowledge of precedent and shuts down all non-essential work/business. This is a failure on the part of our national leaders. It’s our national leaders that must protect those afraid of losing their jobs if they don’t report to work to make tacos, pizzas, and cheeseburgers. Studies have shown that germs for Covid-19 are everywhere. Think about the person handling the food, making the food, touching the wrappers, touching the windows that exchange the food, touching money and credit cards and much more. These workers are not being tested for Covid-19 when they’re walking into work either. How does it make sense to keep restaurants open? What about the people delivering the food? Are they 6 feet away when they drop your food off? Nope. Have they been tested for Covid-19? Nope. It’s not safe to leave people to continue to make normal life decisions like eating out.
Rural residents also have health concerns related to Covid-19 that are non-essential. Their gas stations are a center of economic and social activity. In a small town, there are only a handful of places where people congregate besides church and a bar. These gas stations must stop selling cooked food as well. Places like Love’s gas stations that truckers (yes, they are always American heroes and sheroes as they deliver for us across America) use need to stop prepared food and think about how our nation would be crippled without those essential truck drivers. But again since there are very few options for economic activity in towns and smaller cities, local politicians are taking the brunt of the burden.
We all love a good cheeseburger or want the familiar feeling of normalcy when we order our favorite take out. But it’s not safe and history has proven it. Actually, current statistics on the spread of illness and death from Covid-19 should present enough evidence to not only save workers their lives but eaters as well. Congress needs to step into a national shutdown of non-essential food services. It may save our lives.