An open letter to county leadership

An open letter to county leadership

  • Updated

We have been through a great deal together as a community. I think in many ways our bonds as a community have helped us to overcome the many challenges we have faced – floods, earthquakes, fires, power shut-downs.

In every case, we have seen what it is like to have our daily routines, work, businesses, and family budgets turned on their heads, and in every case we have done an admirable job of figuring out where help comes from outside and what we generate from inside to take care of our neighbors and friends.

I think you have information that may help us through this difficult time when we need to come together. I encourage you to entertain the idea that ‘we can handle the truth,’ and you will be surprised at how we can rally, make sacrifices, think creatively about how to take care of each other.

Right now, I have friends closing businesses, people laid off from jobs. Maybe you think of this as necessary or unfortunate “collateral damage.” I don’t. I think of it as personal sacrifice -- ideally for a greater good. They are seeing a business they built killed and the prospect of personal bankruptcy – never-mind the community of employees that used to have a job with that company.

How will the sacrifice that we, our neighbors and friends contribute to a better situation? I have a hard time telling my friend losing his business that he should feel better because his loss helped to “flatten the curve” for the “healthcare system” – a system that really hasn’t been working all that great despite the ungodly amount of money we individuals and employers have had to contribute.

Be straight up with us. We deserve that. With our sacrifices, we expect the number of cases in Napa County to be reduced from X to Y. That means we expect the number of people needing hospital care to be reduced from Z to AA, and, of course, the related deaths to be decreased from AB to AC. It is also fair to communicate that by temporarily shutting down our 3.85 million tourism inflow (with about $2.23 billion in annual direct spending in our community -- in reality a $6 billion economic impact), we expect new infection rates in our community to decrease by AC and thus local infections and local hospital demand and deaths to decrease by AD.

Please compare and contrast these rates with influenza in our community -- same figures -- how many sick, how many hospital visits, how many deaths. Please know that there also continues to be a fringe group of people that believe the coronavirus is all hype; panic; or even a conspiracy to attack President Trump. Being real about the facts and impacts helps to dispel people's misperception of reality.

I think that any thoughtful person with a kid in school will easily understand that inviting 3.85 million people a year into our county increases the risk of transmission here locally and increases the risk that those people will then bring the virus and its impacts back to their community. You could also say that our community sacrifice of not having 3.85 million visitors here likely will reduce case transmission, hospital demand and deaths by X,Y,Z in our community, and A, B, and C in the country as a whole.

Please give us the numbers so that we can understand what our lost income, lost business, and personal hardship is helping to make happen. You might be surprised to also see that with "just the facts," we may be able to provide resources and creativity to help with critical parts of the solution.

I think that if you tell the truth about the situation, you also will need to tell us the county’s strategy to increase triage hospital bed and treatment -- ideally separate from existing hospital infrastructure to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Ultimately, the driver on “lockdown” and its obscene economic impact is to not overwhelm our hospital and care infrastructure. What do we have and what are we doing to build capacity?

Maybe the situation is so dire that you feel disclosure of the facts would put us in a panic. I call this the 'mushroom model' – don’t really inform us, just tell us what to do and that it is for our own good and the community’s good – that is where we are today.

Again, I think we are bigger than that. Our community has had to deal with multiple calamities. We have done our best to rise to the challenge – not perfect, nor with perfect outcomes, but the outcome has been better, and most importantly, we rallied with a better sense of how we work together and take care of our own.

Please, give us the facts.

Joe Fischer

Napa

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