Nevada County residents are beginning to resume what used to pass for normal life around here, and early indications are they are no more interested in wearing masks and practicing social distancing than their fellow Americans.
A variety of pictures in today’s edition of The Union are instructive in that regard. We are shown a picture of several people standing close together with no masks outside a Nevada City ice cream store, and an employee of another store working behind the counter with no mask.
There’s even a picture of Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum unmasked as she worked with fellow citizens—also unmasked—on the town’s annual cleanup day. Maybe she thought social distancing outdoors didn’t require a mask. I’m guessing she didn’t stay that far away from people all day.
But that’s the way it goes around here. Elected officials give us a lot of happy talk about how everybody’s working together to defeat the coronavirus, a lot of people ignore the advice to wash their hands, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing, and the authorities do nothing to disperse groups or write citations.
The latest dose of happy talk comes from Supervisor Dan Miller in today’s edition of The Union, where he encourages residents to patronize local businesses as quickly as they reopen.
He also takes the opportunity to pat “diligent” country employees and citizens on the back for bending the curve. “It’s never going to look like spring break anywhere in Nevada County,” he wrote. Really, Dan? Let’s see what happens when parking restrictions are lifted at the South Yuba River State Park and NID opens its recreational facilities to the public.
Miller’s an advocate of opening businesses as expeditiously as possible, and he was going to support that movement as last week’s ReOpen Nevada County rally in Grass Valley before backing out at the last minute.
“I decided not to speak,” Miller told The Union. “I believed the intended message of the organizers was to support the opening of all local businesses as soon as possible. That message was hijacked by people who interpreted that to be, open all businesses in violation of the governor’s order and phased plan to reopen.”
It’s hard to believe this surprised Miller. Similar rallies around the country have been little more than excuses to flaunt the rules, with not social distancing, no masks, and featuring signs like “Hang Fauchi, Hang Gates, open up all our states.” Miller expected the local rally to be different?
But at least Miller explained his reasoning. Fellow Supervisor Sue Hoek also backed out after committing to speak, but she dodged the media along with Grass Valley Mayor Lisa Swarthout. Maybe the mayor was too busy asking city officials why the rally was allowed to take place on city property when the organizers lacked liability insurance required by the city for such events.
The Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce also withdrew its endorsement of the rally after being heavily criticized on its Facebook page. Because two supervisors agreed to speak and the rally was on city property, the chamber lamely wrote, “…we viewed this as the County of Nevada and the City of Grass Valley supporting the event, and thus, we gave the Friday event our support as well.”
I have a question for the big thinkers at the chamber: If the city granted a permit for a rally sponsored by a white supremacy group or the Communist Party because they met all of the legal requirements, would the chamber view that as an endorsement?
Around here, you never know.