The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

'Stay at Home' grinds life and business to a halt


March 25, 2020

Statistically, according to a story in Vox magazine last week, the bigger and bluer the area, the greater the worry about the coronavirus. Larger areas and Democrats were generally more worried about the virus than rural areas and Republicans, the story stated, citing polls. That's not a judgment; it's just a story; and it's obvious that the larger the population, the greater the need for concern about easy transmission. That worry is clearly justified.

Especially given that Washington State had big and early COVID-19 numbers, it was not surprising that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee went on TV Monday night to say he was signing a "Stay at Home, Stay Healthy" order effectively shutting down most businesses in the state and prohibiting gatherings, everything from funerals to tea parties, events public and private. Inslee avoided the term "shelter at home," which has drawn sharp criticism in areas where it was used by some claiming it smacked of Armageddon. (And yes, in some quarters the current crisis has been called "Coronageddon.")

The push for greater seclusion seems understandable. You have teens in Florida still hitting beaches, with one famously saying on national TV something like, If I get it, I get it; I'm not going to put my life on hold. Tourists are out at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., taking in the cherry blossoms. Health officials have been mortified at this activity and stating the public isn't taking the crisis seriously enough, something Inslee remarked during his comments Monday night. Here in Klickitat County, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached five as of Monday.

There are some bright spots. Around the country, there are reports of landlords telling their business tenants to forego rent in favor of paying employees. Some sports stars are donating their salaries back to building staff to help their families. And newspapers are seeing a huge boom in readership and website hits during this crisis as readers turn to source information they don't always get from other digital outlets.

The closures in Washington mirror approaches taken in California and New York. First and foremost it will:

• Require every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity.

• Ban all gatherings for social, spiritual, and recreational purposes.

• Close all businesses except essential businesses.

To that latter point, newspapers are deemed by the state to be essential businesses, and The Sentinel will stay open and publish.

The proclamation says it's fine to go outside as long as people stay six feet away from each other. You can take walks, garden, ride your bike, just follow the established social distancing conventions.

All grocery stores, pharmacies, childcare facilities, gas stations, food supply chains, and other things that offer people basic, crucial needs will remain open. The ban of course does not apply to obtaining food and necessities. It does not impact food banks, though distribution may change.

And here in Goldendale, the group of people keeping a finger on the pulse of local health are working with the grocery stores and other goods providers in town to work on a system to deliver food and goods to people who can't get around. More detail on that should be forthcoming, so keep an eye on The Sentinel website for continually updated breaking news. Facebook can be helpful, and the Chamber of Commerce has been vigilant in keeping its members informed, but only The Sentinel has the reach of 25,000+ unique visits to its web page each month.


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