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Saving local businesses from the coronavirus

 

Last updated 3/11/2020 at 12:53pm



Every day, hour-by-hour, we're watching the coronavirus eat away at our everyday lives. Here in Mukilteo, I'm watching traffic all but disappear, stores with empty shelves, many people with masks. I'm getting calls from family and friends from all over the country who recognize Puget Sound as the U.S. epicenter of the contagion.

So we're panic-buying (good luck with finding toilet paper!), withdrawing into our homes, looking somewhere, anywhere, for reassurance that this is only a brief interruption in our daily lives. Spoiler alert: This may be more than a blip. No one knows for sure. Repeat: no one.

While I understand our efforts to protect ourselves, I also realize that we're doing perhaps permanent damage to our local merchants and restaurants who continue to keep their doors open even as they share the concerns of the rest of us.

In plain English, if we stop ordering pizzas from Bite of New York, sushi at Sakuma, or calzones at Sully's, we're asking these owners and the families that own/operate them to suffer. We must not do that. Even though many of us are retreating to our homes, we must protect these good people who have served this community for years.

Their doors will only remain open if we as customers continue buying their goods and services.

Some epidemiologists are predicting that other unknown and unpredictable viruses may well be coming. If that's the case, as a society we're woefully unprepared. Our major tools appear to be locking down places where groups of people congregate and staying home. I'm not criticizing these steps. They're logical responses.

But I can't help wondering, however, if our world can learn to live with these maladies without destroying our society in the process. What follows these short-term responses, or is closing everything down our permanent reaction? Is this "the new normal?"

While we ponder these existential questions, let's not retreat so far into our homes that we forget we have a role in keeping our community together. And that includes shopping, eating out/takeout, and all the other amenities of daily life. We must be more cautious, of course, but we must keep our community alive.

Following the same, common-sense rules recommended by health officials should keep us safe. We should all be concerned, but we don't want to lose our community.

If we don't do it, who will?

Writer's note: This column originated as a post on the free members-only NextDoor website (https://nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=139747919). Many responses to it from our neighbors are well worth reading.

 

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