Playing the high-stakes waiting game

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We all sat patiently last week, waiting to hear what Gov. Jay Inslee had to say and when our lives might get back to normal. And so it goes ... the new date is May 31, 2020.

But we are in a waiting game, and that is just a date to anxiously wait to see what happens next.

The governor also laid out “Washington’s Phased Approach” where he explained four stages we must go through (with at least three weeks in between) before business will be somewhat back to normal.

There has been heavy discussion lately on what social distancing means as county commissioners and health officials decide how to slowly open our small communities. People are afraid visitors will flock to the area or people will let up on social distancing. 

While this all might be true, we can decide whether to be around people, stay home, wear masks and keep 6 feet apart. We should not fight with each other, but instead work together. It’s a divisive subject and one that brings strong sentiments to the surface. As in many cases, a little understanding goes a long way.

Jefferson County has been lucky we have had a very low number of COVID-19 cases and zero deaths from the disease. But I feel the pain so many small businesses are going through, and I understand the fear of individuals not wanting to get sick.

Many businesses along the main street in downtown Port Townsend have already lost their valuable tourism season and are worried how to make ends meet for another year.

A few of the staff members here at The Leader, including myself, had a meeting with Rep. Derek Kilmer on Monday (via Zoom), and one topic we discussed was a bill he is co-sponsoring, “Restore America’s Main Street Act.”

“Employers on Main Streets across our region–and all over America–are hurting as we work to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” Kilmer said. “While new programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans are providing significant assistance to millions of small businesses, many others are struggling to gain access. This rebate will help our nation’s small businesses retain employees, pay critical bills and keep the lights on.”

The rebate would provide qualified small businesses with equal to 30% of the gross receipts reported in a previous year (up to $120,000). Let’s all hope this bill gets off the ground and smaller businesses do not get left holding the bag while large businesses receive all the assistance.

I know I have said this before, but we are indeed in this together. Together we can help each other navigate through this maze over the coming months.

(Donna Etchey is the publisher of the Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader.)

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