Oh, the times we live in.
It has been proven that keeping people away from each other so that they can not spread the virus is the way to save people’s lives. The governments, local, state and federal, have probably later than they should have, instituted stay-in-place orders and closed many businesses in order to stem the infection.
We now have people protesting that they cannot get haircuts or go to the mall, calling such deprivation assaults on their freedom.The majority of protestors I have seen are waving guns, carrying Confederate flags or flags supporting the president. If their true motivation is protecting their freedom or getting back to work what do guns, Confederate flags and political signs have to do with it?
There is no doubt these are hard times for many people. Our country was not ready for this. The unemployment system in Ohio has basically crashed and burned, no doubt due to being overwhelmed with applications and inquiries far beyond anything ever experienced.
The company that sends me substitute teaching announcements also sent me an email early in March informing me that because they are closed down due to the virus I am eligible to apply for unemployment. I laughed at first, then decided to try it, mainly to see what it entailed. So, I popped online to fill out the application.
I put in my Social Security number and the one time password they gave me and got about three pages into the online application when the system booted me out. When I tried to sign back in it told me that my password, which I had been instructed to change the first time I logged in, and had done, no longer was valid. Neither was the one they had sent me originally. So I had to call a number and get a new one.
OK! I was back in business. I went back and signed in, same thing happened three more times. I finally applied, only to be told that as a part-time worker I was not eligible and that the CARE act which says I was, was not in place in Ohio yet, there was no application available for part-time workers or independent contractors, but there would be soon. I was reassured that the funds would be sent to me retroactively once the application process was developed, perhaps sometime in May.
My unemployment, if any, is not vital to me eating or living. There are a lot of folks for whom it might be. You cannot go to the grocery and tell them you will pay them with your retroactive unemployment when it comes in.
So, we are faced with a dilemma. Many people do not have financial reserves to get through the time period required to conquer the virus. To get money some people need the country to re-open. Some people cannot live if the country is re-opened because the virus will kill them and it can and does kill all kinds of people. In addition, if the country is opened and the cases resurge or spike we will be back in the same place, businesses will close, people will be ordered to stay home, wear, masks, etc. perhaps for an even longer time. Dead people are not good workers or customers.
Is money more important or are people’s lives more important? As is always the case, what you see depends on where you are standing.
I have no doubt we will get through this, I only hope we will not have suffered in vain and will learn some important lessons about health care, economics, compassion and the role of governments.
Cookie Newsom is a Greene County resident and guest columnist.