Everyone needs to slow down and take a breath - unless you are within six feet of someone not wearing a mask over their face. Then you should wait until you are a safe distance away and take a breath.
I'm kidding around but you guys really need to relax for a minute. This coronavirus stuff is scary. It seems like the rules change every few hours. Guidance from experts changes as more studies are completed and leaders who told you how to best navigate the pandemic have to update the plans on how to navigate the pandemic.
More than ever I see people being rude to restaurant and grocery store workers because something isn't like they expected. Please remember, the young man stocking the toilet paper aisle isn't in charge of ordering products for the store and he certainly doesn't control the supply chain across the country that was decimated by hoarders. Can you imagine what you would think if you went back to 1918 and saw newspaper headlines about people hoarding toilet paper because of the Spanish Flu pandemic? That's the gift we are leaving future generations.
You also need to back off when it comes to your comments on public officials. I haven't agreed with everything Gov. Kristi Noem, Steve Allender or others who have been thrust to the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 have done. However, I have tried to reserve criticism lately - and part of my job is to be critical of public servants. Honestly, folks, no one knows exactly what to do.
County Commissioner Ron Rossknecht pointed out what should have been obvious Tuesday morning when he said, "We are all just humans trying to do the best we can."
It isn't like they have a playbook to follow. Society is slightly different than it was in 1918. Those poor people making decisions back then didn't have the benefit of angry advice from ill-advised people who bought into a conspiracy theory on Facebook or saw a meme on Twitter. They didn't even have phones. I know County Commissioner Lloyd LaCroix might be ready to trade places with his cohorts from a century ago.
He broke down near tears during Tuesday morning's meeting as he was pleading with people to be more considerate. As he was recalling phone calls his wife is forced to field on his behalf, he became overwhelmed with emotion and just stopped.
That's when Deb Hadcock recalled something she had said at previous meetings. With emotionally invested people on both sides of the argument, the commission is, "damned if we do and damned if we don't."
Governor Noem is one of five governors in the nation who hasn't issued a shelter in place order for the entire state. She has been roundly criticized for it. Mayor Allender and the Rapid City Council have issued a similar order for Rapid City. Guess what happened to them? I hope you didn't guess that people were appreciative and grateful.
This is the consummate lose-lose situation. No one wants to close businesses or damage the economy in an effort to slow the number of people visiting hospitals with a new, deadly virus. As Allender said when the city first began to consider closing certain businesses, "There are negative health effects to poverty too."
If you think you have all the answers in this coronavirus pandemic, you are showing a level of arrogance to match your ignorance. Elected officials are trying to preserve public health and safety and the economy. About 10 million people have already lost their jobs at least temporarily. Many more have had their pay cut without seeing a decrease in the work they have to do. Schools have been canceled. Sports have become a memory. Travel plans have unraveled.
Right now, survival is a success - for you, your business and your community. We need to all focus on how we can help make sure we reach that goal together. It won't be long before we return to something close to the normal life we took for granted.
Until then, put on your mask, gloves and big boy or girl pants and get to work making life better for yourself and those around you.
Kent Bush is the editor of the Rapid City Journal.
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