Letter to editor stock art - old mailbox

I am writing to submit my suggestion to opening the economy and keeping people safe with a different approach.

We have had a stay-at-home order since Tuesday, March 17. The nursing homes and assisted living centers have been hit the hardest with over 80% of the deaths from the COVID-19. Why are the these facilities having the highest percentage of deaths from this virus? I don’t believe any of the residents were out of the country or at Wuhan, China. Most likely their relatives, visitors or workers were not in other countries or China either. Health officials are able to trace the exposure of the virus showing how and where these people became infected.

You can’t blame the virus spread on most small businesses because they have been closed by the governor’s order or have gone broke because of the shutdowns.

When the pandemic began, I felt that the governor and his staff were handling the situation expediently and thoughtfully with one big exception, leaving the big box stores open with no rules.

These big box stores were the petri dish of the pandemic. Why were the big box stores left open with no rules on social distancing or sanitation procedures? These stores were left open as “essential?” But in reality, people weren’t there just buying food, medical needs, etc., but anything and everything they wanted. No restraints were put on any items to purchase. Remember when we found out about the virus and noted it was running rampant on cruise ships because of no social distancing and lack of effective sanitation procedures? Could this be a parallel to big box stores?

Drive by any of the big box stores and you will find their parking lots full. You can be assured that much of the virus spread can be attributed to people going to these big box stores. Big box stores are now implementing social distancing but it’s too little too late, to work. Eight weeks later, these stores are now requiring workers and customers to use more safe practices but small businesses which can only do curbside or very limited customer interaction have even stricter rules if they want to be open.

In reality, small businesses would have been able to provide a much safer and more responsible social distancing environment for their customers and staff.

Remember when the big box stores moved in to small towns. Well, most small businesses, the heartbeat of America, did not survive. They couldn’t compete with the big businesses and it led to the closing of those small businesses. Then when these big box stores couldn’t make it in these small towns, they simply pulled up stakes and turned the small towns into ghost towns.

Let’s close all the big box stores for two or three months and you’ll see the virus slow up substantially. Maybe then the “heartbeat of America” small business will have a chance to survive.

I want all businesses to survive whether big or small, but we need to apply common sense to structure the economic recovery in a new way.

Give small businesses a real chance to make it back by letting them have the same “open” status that big box stores have had since this the pandemic started.

Bert Notermann

Shakopee

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