This reporter spent the last two days observing the effects of the coronavirus scare that is sweeping the country like a California grass fire in August. I’ve interviewed business owners and people on the streets and in the coffee shops. It is pretty much the same story.
In 1932, as the Great Depression became a permanent way of life, President Roosevelt declared that “All we have to fear is fear itself.” He could have been predicting what would happen almost 90 years later.
People are frightened by indecision.
One of the most popular coffee shops in the valley had nobody except family members this morning and only a few customers dribbled in over more than two hours. Hangar One at Ryan Airport always has a packed breakfast and lunch crowd. Today at lunch there had been two customers until eleven when two or three more drifted in. Small business owners who are sole proprietors are scared to close and afraid to stay open. One restaurant owner told me that “my overhead goes on whether I have customers or not. My employees can get unemployment checks if I have to shut down, but where will I get compensation? Right now it looks bleak for me and all the other sole proprietors.”
Doctors tell me that we need universal testing to determine who needs to be quarantined and who can go about their business. One general practitioner observed that “the richest country in the world is the last one to have universal testing.” People seem to be looking for leadership that doesn’t exist. Parking lots that are usually packed with cars are almost empty.
At the county recorder’s office in Merino Valley they had two customers at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, where as it is usually packed in the late afternoon. Highway 60 and Gilman Road were moving along at the speed limit when they are usually bumper to bumper during afternoon drive times.
People are simply living in fear rather than acting with common sense. I spoke to a Riverside County deputy sheriff who ventured that “We will see riots in the streets if everyone doesn’t just calm down.“
The last time I remember when we had such shut downs in the U.S. was the late 1930s and early 1940s when the swimming pools were closed all over the country due to the polio scare.
Like a boiling tea kettle on the stove when it gets too hot, it erupts in steam. So when does a population’s patience wear thin? Folks need real action, not hopes and prayers. Just sayin.
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