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Dialogue with citizenry needed

An Upcountry resident of 25 years described the fall from “enjoying my best life” to being “plunged into a darkness of confusion, despair and fear of the likes of which I had never known before” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergency orders that destroyed the economy.

It’s a story probably experienced by many other residents, the losing of five jobs overnight and waiting 10 weeks to get an unemployment check. This person’s son lost his resort job.

The writer had harsh words for federal, state and county officials’ handling of the pandemic.

“I am a ‘no one,’ but I have never broken any laws, stolen from anyone, intentionally harmed anyone, and have done my best to be a contributing and responsible member of this community. I do not need to be told to wash my hands, stand apart from my healthy friends, or admonished daily to be concerned about the well being of others. I am deeply concerned for the moral and literal survival of the people of this island, in truth this entire world.”

This is a cry from a citizen, like many others, who feel that they don’t have a voice, unlike workers who have unions or businesses and their trade groups, in what happens to them in this COVID-19 world.

This resident is calling for an “open dialogue and a regular forum to air grievances, offer ideas and work together to solve this wretched reality we now embrace.”

A town hall with citizens and county government officials is sorely needed. This resident proposes a gathering in an outdoor venue with social distancing and compliance with other health and safety guidelines.

We are not sure that such an in-person gathering is possible in the current stage of the spread of the virus. But Felicity Raugust’s letter makes a great point: There is a “disconnect that is happening between leadership and constituency.”

We do not agree with everything in Raugust’s letter but we support her position that cold and impersonal daily statistics and proclamations must be balanced by citizen’s views and dialogue.

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