The Septuagenarian Speaks – published March 25, 2020, Siskiyou Daily News

What a week!  So much has happened regarding the coronavirus that it’s all a blur.  Just when I thought I had the ground rules figured out, they changed.  Last Thursday Governor Gavin Newsom told the world that 56% of California’s population – roughly 25.5 million residents – could be infected with the coronavirus over an eight-week period!  We have been bombarded by so much information, often contradictory, and often false, that it’s difficult to sort out the truth.  My brain is so full of thoughts and ideas about the pandemic that I’m compelled to release the pressure valve and spew them out via this column, even knowing as I write this today (Sunday), by Wednesday when you read it, everything may be different.

I confess I’ve never been a fan of Governor Newsom, believing that it has always been his MO to be in the limelight and on the cutting edge of issues to promote … Gavin Newsom, never mind the carnage left in his wake.  He left San Francisco a disaster, and I fear he will do the same to the State of California, although arguably it’s already a disaster.  But, setting aside my predisposition about Governor Newsom, I have to admire and respect that he and other state and federal government leaders are willing to boldly plunge into uncharted waters.  No one really knows what the outcome of this pandemic will be.  The pressure they are under is immense.  They necessarily have to anticipate and plan for a worst-case-scenario.  Better to do that and be proved wrong than vice versa.  They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.   But still, there are, and always will be, politicians and media people who are opportunistic, and who will use the coronavirus as a means to promote their own interests.

So, I got that off my chest.  Now I want to talk about some real heroes of this crisis, the people literally putting their lives and health on the line every day to get us through this.  Governor Newsom’s order directs us all to stay home indefinitely, except for those involved in critical infrastructure sectors.   Who are the people doing these essential jobs?  They are our neighbors and friends.  We can’t “shelter at home” and survive without certain essentials, such as food, medical care, medicines, fuel, law enforcement, fire fighters, public works and other government functions, communication, and mail delivery.  We are told for our own safety and the safety of others not to congregate in groups and to maintain six feet of distance from each other, but the people who provide us with goods and services that are necessities of life can’t do their jobs without doing those things.  So, for those of you working in our hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, restaurants doing take-out, post offices, grocery stores, police and fire agencies, courthouses, and all the rest of you providing essential services, thank you.  We will support you.  And we will also do our best to support those of you who are forced to shut down your businesses.  Our communities’ existence depends on small businesses, and we know that many small businesses, especially in rural areas like ours, simply do not have the financial reserves to weather an extended period of closure.  We will follow the regulations and do whatever we can do to minimize the duration of this crisis. 

Bob Kaster
Yreka, CA

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