Submitted by Barry Perryman
“This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.” — Admiral Josh Painter, from The Hunt for Red October
The central point of the governor’s Wednesday press conference (6/24/20) was captured in the statement, “Wearing mask coverings save lives, period. End of story. We owe it to each other to accept the fact that wearing face mask coverings saves lives.”
I am still unclear on the motivation of his sudden executive decree. What information was used to base the decision on? The recent rise in COVID-19 cases is all I can ascertain, maybe he got caught not wearing one, or maybe it was a “Be-like-Mike” momentwith Gavin Newsom in mind. He obviously did not consider the collateral damage possibilities.
I am like almost every American at this point in the pandemic, fed up with information overload, fake news, and rude behavior. Somehow in all the smoke, Nevada went from a reasonable mission of “flattening the curve” to keeping any and everyone from contracting the virus so that no one will ever die! The only way out of this is through herd immunity achieved by a combination of controlled exposure and vaccines. Has this concept even been discussed? In natural resource management, massive fire suppression efforts have led to catastrophic fires. We try to control this now through prescribed, controlled burns. How about using that as a model?
Instead, the governor has now, in no uncertain terms, told us if we don’t wear a mask, we are accessories to manslaughter. In making this clear, he has once again used incendiary statements to create panic among the citizenry. He has given license to those already in favor of wearing masks to denigrate and castigate those that see it as a governmental overreach.
Both positions are valid, and neither has the moral high ground, but now the governor has empowered maskers to denigrate and castigate non-maskers in public and on social media. Non-maskers are now politically incorrect and should be discriminated against based on their opinion. Once again, the governor has forgotten that he represents all Nevada citizens, not just the ones he prefers.
His one-size-fits-all approach to the situation is confirmed once again. Rural counties that have no COVID-19 cases must bend to his wishes. He threatens rural county business owners with financial penalties if they don’t comply. What happens when the tables are turned, when Clark and Washoe counties have largely achieved herd immunity and the rural counties haven’t? Will he close down the urbans to save the rurals?
Emotions are running high all over the country. People are on edge due to the pandemic lifestyle requirements, financial ruin, self-esteem issues driven by unemployment, and uncertainty of the future. Add in the civil unrest surrounding the tragic and criminal George Floyd incident. There is a cultural powder keg waiting to go off. All it needs in Nevada is an ignition point.
Fostering a hostile work environment by priming the workplace atmosphere is a Federal crime. Governor Sisolak’s behavior during the pandemic mirrors that. People have had it. When folks wake up and wonder what new edict will be delivered in the next rule-by-press conference, they will eventually lash out. A lot of people across the political spectrum don’t need another reason to validate their hatred every morning when they wake up. A wise elected official knows that.
Nevada’s economy wasn’t shut down by the virus, it was shut down by Gov. Sisolak. He did it. He made the unilateral decision and continues to ignore advice from intelligent and thoughtful elected officials in the rural counties. He ostensibly stated in Wednesday’s press conference that the people attempting to contact DETR were themselves the ones directly responsible for DETR’s problems. Stop calling DETR so much was the answer! Yeah, quit trying to contact the agency that is supposed to keep you from financial ruin. Just sit in your living room and enjoy the anxiety.
The governor shut the economy down and doesn’t want to own it. He blames it on the virus, he blames it on the non-maskers, and he blames DETR’s issues on the unemployed ranks that he created.
It’s a very thoughtful kingly edict, criminalizing non-maskers, and the exceptions are well thought out of course. They include children and all classes of folks put at personal risk by wearing a mask, and a couple of groups that carry no personal risk at all, including those that are incarcerated and the residents of all the Schieve-villes here in Reno. Of course, they pose no risk to their neighbors. It wouldn’t matter that scores of them could eventually find their way to the ICU.
We need thoughtful and well-planned decisions more than ever. We need patience and common sense instead of scatter-brained whims. People are on edge and all it may take is one more uncarefully crafted, adolescent style mandate to send it up in flames. It’s likely the governor would take no ownership of that either. There are a lot of thoughtful, creative Nevadans with new and bold ideas, but you have to ask for help when you need it.
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.
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