Some people have had enough.
After the state of Missouri relaxed the coronavirus-related stay-at-home order last week, the local Health Department announced Boone County would still retain additional restrictions.
In response, numerous local businesspeople, through their attorneys, sent a formal letter to several local officials, arguing the edicts here are unreasonable, unfair, inconsistent with Missouri law and violate the U.S. Constitution.
They say the local restrictions are unreasonable, as we have already flattened the curve. Cases and deaths remain low compared to the population at large.
Boone County Commissioner Fred Parry, who did not sign the letter but has been in communication with the sponsors, separately observed the unfairness from a local small-business perspective:
“When you’re asked to go without revenue for two months, but you look down the street and it looks like it’s Black Friday at Walmart or Home Depot or Bass Pro, you really start to wonder, ‘Why is it that my mom-and-pop shop that might get five customers a day can’t open?’”
Though it makes sense for Columbia to be more cautious than rural areas and less restrictive than St. Louis, there is a question of what legal authority the local health administrator has.
The letter cites chunks of state statute about how in a health emergency that is statewide (which this certainly is), the state makes the rules.
The U.S. Constitution point is interesting to ponder: Under what circumstances can government (of any level) legitimately issue blanket orders for even healthy people to not freely act in otherwise lawful activities?
The Missourian also reported that about 75 folks gathered last Thursday afternoon in front of the Daniel Boone City Building to verbally voice their disdain for the shutdown.
In a good old-fashioned protest with flags, handmade signs and theme apparel, a leader with a microphone delivered an interactive rally speech.
The photos show some attendees with masks, some without. One woman was hugging another, declaring an inobservance of social distancing in that, “we don’t do 6 feet.”
The celebration of sorts was about self-determination and self-responsibility.
Others, in condemning the incautious as being reckless and irresponsibly endangering us all, are effectively claiming a sort of collective ownership over their fellow citizen.
Not to be trite, but life is full of risks. While there is a risk to do something, there are, likewise, consequences of inaction.
The risks of doing might be very compelling, perhaps even overwhelming, but the risks of not doing still exist.
We might very well avoid the risk of many calamities by simply refusing to get out of bed in the morning.
But as we should all well realize, staying put also has its costs, which mount as remaining sedentary extends from days to weeks to months.
My grandfather told a story about how he was diagnosed with a heart condition as a young man and ordered to stay inside indefinitely.
Another doctor offered a second opinion: the same diagnosis, but a different remedy.
Yes, going back to farm work might possibly cause him to drop dead, but the atrophy from remaining immobile was guaranteed to do so.
So go out, take it slow at first, build up your strength and live the life you can. My grandfather credited that manual labor for keeping his heart ticking away until he died at age 97.
Many quarantined people have been thrust into instant poverty, including horrified local small-business owners who have their lives and nest eggs tied up in an enterprise that is withering to death before their eyes.
They are legitimately wrenching in pain as shutdowns linger, so we are hearing more from them at this time.
Though some readers may be tempted to write off these perspectives as from the capitalist class or right-wing ideologues, the effects are certainly wider.
The longer we default to the control end of the shutdown spectrum, the more stress people will feel, the more poor they will become.
Poverty is not good for one’s health outcomes. Neither is dropping one’s health insurance because of job loss and/or inability to afford the premiums.
With coronavirus monopolizing our attention, many Americans are putting off routine medical treatments, disease screenings and even minor surgeries.
Many are afraid to set foot in a medical center for any reason, for fear of catching that one headline virus.
Yes, this virus is a big thing, but it’s not the only thing.
Many local businesses are ready to reopen with reasonable precautions; if not allowed to do so, more will stay closed forever.
Is the county Health Department considering how their restrictions affect those businesses and workers, as well as whatever number of local women who later discover they have advanced breast cancer because of mammograms that were put off during this county-mandated extended shutdown?
There is a balance to be had, and that is the debate of the day.
Steve Spellman hosts “The Mid-Missouri Freedom Forum” at 5 p.m. every Tuesday on KOPN/89.5 FM.