Open Up Santa Barbara

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On March 19, the governor issued a state-wide mandate to shelter-in-place to stop the spread of COVID. We all did so, because it was the right thing to do.

We all watched in horror at the mounting casualties in New York, expecting the shoe to drop here on the West Coast next. Apparently, we are still waiting, as casualties in California were last reported at around 2,900 — 2,900 in a state whose population is 39.5 million? This number does not reflect the black death we were fearing, and it certainly is not justification to let our businesses collapse for one more second.

Since March 19, the businesses that both my husband and I built through many years of hard work have come to a grinding halt. Instead of doing what we love, we spend our time scrambling to file loan paperwork, sort through bills and other loans to see where we can get deferment, and other ways to survive. All of this on top of homeschooling two elementary-aged kids. The only way we can save our livelihoods (and this community) is to get back to work.

Although there are exceptions, it is the elderly and those with preexisting conditions who are dying in this pandemic. The great majority of us will not die from catching this illness, and thank goodness, our children seem to be blessed with good outcomes. This risk-averse hyper-state we have been adhering to since March 19 does not make sense anymore. Our hospitals and clinics are not overwhelmed, they are underwhelmed. They are buckling under financial strain and important follow-up visits and screenings are being postponed. The triage tent that was erected outside of Cottage sits empty like a circus tent waiting to be broken down to move on to the next show.

If the greatest numbers of new and existing COVID cases are mostly inside the Lompoc prison and Santa Maria, some 80 miles away, then this does not justify the prolonged interruption of Santa Barbara businesses, health care, or schools. At the time of writing this letter, no one in Santa Barbara city has died from COVID. Driving is still more dangerous. Furthermore, the soaring suicide rates from social isolation and economic fallout both locally and state-wide are not being reported to the public. Our state and local authorities have decided that the only life worth saving, at any cost, is the life of someone who has COVID.

It is unacceptable to sacrifice the businesses we have built, our children’s development, and our personal sanity and liberty to save the few. We did our duty in March and April and stayed home. We saved a lot of lives during that time, but there is no denying that the cure is now worse than the affliction.

Open Santa Barbara up. Protect the health of all of us.

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