Missouri has been under a shelter in place order for just over a week. I have no inside information; I am only giving my opinion that Governor Parsons did this because he felt pressured. The truth is our Governor was in a no-win situation. Of all the people with an opinion on this matter, half seem to think he was not doing enough to prevent the spread of the coronavirus throughout the state, while the others are concerned for the future of small and local businesses. The truth is with or without his Executive Order most in our state were already practicing social distancing and taking other precautions when in public.
The delay in signing this order might be attributed to a line in his speech when he stated that Missouri has two large metro areas and a lot of rural counties, meaning that a one size fits all policy does not work well for our state. Considering that most local municipalities had already put measures in place, the Governor’s order may make little to no difference in what we are already experiencing.
For those that feel the Governor acted too late, much of their fear may be driven by the media. The overwhelming majority of what is being reported is focusing on large metro areas such as New York. And in order to keep the viewers and ratings high, they spotlight the worst and purposely omit facts such as the recovery rate of this virus is over 98% or failing to talk about how many people may have contracted this and recovered that were never tested. It is almost as if some citizens believe this is the 21st century version of the bubonic plague and we are all doomed to get it eventually.
Being concerned for their health and that of others is the American spirit and no one is ridiculing them for feeling that way however, some have bought into the hype. I have seen many complaining on social media about the number of people they are encountering in public on a daily basis. While they will justify their comments by saying that they are “essential” and allowed to be out, they have no knowledge of other’s situations of being in the same place.
While our Government has the responsibility of putting measures in place to keep our citizens safe, they also have to balance limiting the damage to our economy. For weeks businesses like bowling alleys, movie theatres, retail clothing stores and other small “mom and pop” shops have been closed and restaurants are limited to carryout or drive thru only. Small business is the backbone of our nation’s economy and in just a few weeks these closures have done enormous damage to our state’s economy.
Most of the small and locally owned businesses operate on a very slim profit margin during a normal economy. Everyday these businesses are closed they are losing a day’s revenue they will never get back. Many are saying with each passing day we are one day closer to getting thru this, but for local businesses many may be one day closer to never reopening.
As much as Governor Parsons needs to keep us safe he must also allow our local economies to survive without policies that hurt them. He deserves credit for not allowing the fear that has dictated how other Governors have handled this crisis influence him. He understands President Trumps words “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem”
Ray Rehder is the chair of the 8th District Republican Committee, chair of the Scott County Republican Central Committee, and chair of the 148 Republican Legislative District. He can be reached at [email protected]