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To live in fear (opinion)

By ThisIsReno
Governor Steve Sisolak's April 30, 2020 press conference announcing phase 1 of a reopening plan. Image: Eric Marks

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Submitted by Barry Perryman

“Quite an experience, to live in fear isn’t it? That’s what it is, to be a slave.” Roy Batty’s words from the climax scene in the 1982 film Blade Runner, has special relevance this [week]. Many folks around Reno, and the rest of Nevada sat down to watch Governor Sisolak’s presser April 30 with optimism and hope. Reopening the State is on everyone’s mind, and we anticipated solid moves toward that end. Instead of hope and optimism based on clear and measurable steps forward, it was instead an infuriating experience for thousands of small business owners, elected officials, and working stiffs like you and me.

Fear is still among us, and fear leads to Civil unrest.  

There were many conversations over the last few weeks regarding the Governor’s one-size-fits-all approach to managing the State’s COVID-19 response. Indeed, early in his statement he made reference to that point and expectations rose in real time, only to be gutted a few sentences later.

Yes, Eureka and Pershing Counties are different from Clark County and should be managed differently. In natural resource management for instance, my profession is continually pushing for greater management flexibility based on local conditions. Individual County Commissions are much more knowledgeable and capable of managing their counties than Governor Sisolak.

He acknowledged this point with, “That’s why in order to navigate Phase 1, and plan for future phases, we are going to partner with our locally elected officials at the county level who are the experts in their community.” He went on to say, that they are the best at implementing the statewide plan.

Stop…implement? What about the planning just mentioned in the previous sentence? He went on to say that county implementation plans must meet or exceed the State requirements, and that no county will open before all the counties open. In reality, it is and will continue to be a one-size-fits-all approach.

A protester holds a sign reading "Stop Punishing Rural Nevada" April 18, 2020 in Carson City. Image: Eric Marks
A protester holds a sign reading “Stop Punishing RURAL Nevada” April 18, 2020 in Carson City. Image: Eric Marks

Not only are Nevada counties vastly different from each other, there is diversity within the same profession. Take cosmetology as an example. Ensuring COVID-19 precautions for a 10-chair salon would be much different than for a single-chair, suite salon. A licensed cosmetology professional already has significant amounts of training and implementation experience regarding infectious diseases. Next to the medical profession, cosmetology and barber professionals may be the most highly trained and regulated infectious disease folks in our communities. Should small, suite proprietors continue to be shut down just like large salons? Could large salons adjust their personnel downward so there could be less than ten on the premises at one time? Get the idea?

At times, it seems Governor Sisolak forgets that he is the Governor of Nevada…all of Nevada. He is the chief decision maker. The role of his staff is to inform him, so he can make decisions. Instead, he is allowing the medical experts to make all the decisions for him. He has other experts informing him about things like economic welfare, and it appears as though he has chosen to ignore the citizens they represent.

However, it was impressive to hear an apology for his recent lack of communication; it was an honorable gesture. Now it is time to do another honorable thing and let County Commissions, municipal, and business leaders make their own plans, which out of necessity, should differ in some ways from the State plan. It’s like the federal government providing guidelines instead of ordering the States to do what they are told.

This whole COVID-19 episode reminds me of Roy Batty’s words. Living in fear is no good. Letting competent, thoughtful individuals find their own way out of it would be empowering. Oh well, at least we have pickleball…     

B.L. Perryman
B.L. Perryman

B.L. Perryman has appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, FOX News, National Geographic, and National Television of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as a natural resource specialist. His recent novel, Katydids and Trains was awarded the 2019 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for best western humor and also recognized as a Finalist for the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. He has twice received accolades from the Nevada Press and Freedom of the Press Associations for his column, Tales from the Wasteland in RANGE Magazine.

Submitted opinions do not represent the views of ThisisReno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article here.

Support This Is Reno’s COVID-19 news coverage

We are reporting daily on how the coronavirus is impacting the Reno area. This coverage is outside of our paywall, provided free of charge. Please help us continue by becoming a subscriber or contributing a tax-deductible donation to our COVID-19 news fund. Any amount is appreciated.

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