On March 19, California’s original stay-at-home order was issued. The purpose of these initial shutdowns was to “flatten the curve” and ensure that our health care infrastructure would have the capacity to treat everyone who was infected. Thanks to the cooperation and sacrifice of the American people, we’ve been able to accomplish that, but seven months later, not much has changed for the folks in California’s 25th Congressional District. Businesses are still shut down or heavily restricted, students are still out of school and offices are still closed.
COVID-19 has led to a once-in-a-lifetime crisis and remains a real threat for millions, and I strongly encourage everyone to follow the science and adhere to the guidance of public health experts. However, even as the coronavirus is a serious public health issue, it does not mean we can give up on working toward safe solutions for the problems our communities face. Sadly, Sacramento politicians seemingly want us to do just that.
Even as we’ve receive more and more data on this virus, Sacramento politicians have refused to adjust their approach. It seems that they’ve punted on efforts to make data-driven policy decisions and are instead content with keeping the state in perpetual shutdown. While folks are concerned with keeping their families healthy and making it through this difficult time, the career politicians have once again failed us. In many cases, they’ve cost hardworking Californians their businesses and livelihoods; livelihoods they need just to afford the tremendous financial burdens Sacramento politicians place on families and workers.
Those leading the state’s pandemic response are the same politicians who have hiked taxes time and again and implemented jobs-killing policies like Assembly Bill 5. At a time when many were turning to gig economy work just to stay afloat, AB5 threatened to force ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft to shut down California operations, crushing hundreds of thousands of much-needed jobs.
And Sacramento liberals aren’t satisfied. Food and grocery delivery, which have become crucial pandemic resources for our seniors and at-risk groups along with struggling restaurants, may be the next target.
These disastrous policies continue to crush our families and small businesses, sending more and more Californians toward the state line. But career politicians could care less. They can afford to comfortably wait it out at home, but after seven months of lockdown and no end in sight, many folks are just looking for a lifeline.
My wife and I both run our own small businesses. We’ve seen the impact of Sacramento’s pandemic response compounded with the effects of the high taxes and liberal policies. We’ve felt the impact.
We need to leave behind Sacramento’s foolish one-size-fits-all policy, and start focusing on making decisions based on local data. We must give people the chance to get back to work and get their kids back in school. Those who are in increased risk categories can and should stay home, but we have to give California workers and small businesses a chance to survive. They can’t afford to wait.
Californians are ready to go back to work and rebuild what was a record economy at the start of the year. Provided we take the proper precautions and adhere to social distancing and mask guidelines, this is certainly possible. Americans are resilient and we can adapt.
It is also critical that we get our kids back to school. The Centers for Disease Control has recommended the reopening of schools and noted the harmful effects of extended closures for students. It is evident that school-aged children are a low-risk group with regard to the virus, and it has been shown that K-12 schools did not become vectors of transmission in regions where they remained open throughout the pandemic.
Right now Californians are worried about whether they’ll be able to put food on the table, whether their children will fall behind in school as a result of distance learning, and whether they will lose the businesses they’ve worked years to build. We cannot let this virus defeat us.
Resolve and an ability to adapt and overcome are hallmarks of the American spirit. We need to continue to take this virus seriously and keep all the necessary precautions in place, but we must make our decisions based on the data and science. We can no longer afford to be guided by fear.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, represents the 25th Congressional District.