Editor’s note May 22, 2020 at 7:00 AM: The Executive Board of the Grass Valley Chamber met late yesterday, and in light of what they learned throughout the day, has rescinded their support of the ReOpen Rally event.
May 21, 2020 – A group self-identified as ‘Reopen Nevada County’ is planning a rally this Friday from noon to 2:00 pm in the Grass Valley City Hall parking lot. Yesterday, the Grass Valley Chamber and Visitor Center decided to promote the rally on their Facebook page and quickly drew the ire of a majority of commenters. The original post, greatly edited since, read in part “The Greater Grass Valley Chamber’s board of directors is in support of the business community’s right to gather and to have their voices heard in regard to the County of Nevada’s policy on Stage 3 business reopening.”
A member of the Reopen group posted a lengthy explanation as to why Nevada County needs to fully reopen now. The post is filled with dog whistles that sound eerily familiar to anyone following the news. “I have never met him. I do not know him. I do not know anything about him.” “They are UNALIENABLE RIGHTS that we have when born as SOVEREIGN HUMAN BEINGS.”
The Chamber’s original post encouraged people to “carpool, assemble peacefully and respectfully, observe social distancing, and please remember that in public, it is your choice whether or not to wear a mask. While Nevada County officials recommend following CDC guidelines, there are no orders requiring the masks to be worn while out in public.” It also announced two Nevada County Supervisors would speak at the rally, but as of publication time no Supervisor is slated to appear.
Today, the Chamber responded to our request for comment and also posted the answer on their Facebook channel. It reads, in part “We’re deeply aware of the delicate balancing act of protecting the community’s health and well-being, which is paramount, along with nurturing and supporting our members and the greater business community so that they have the best chance of surviving the COVID crisis. As a business organization dedicated to preserving economic vitality, our Board of Directors supports the First Amendment Right of the businesses in our community to assemble peacefully and respectfully and to have their voices heard on this issue.”
We, as a community, were doing so well. With 41 positive cases and one death in Nevada County, the impact of the virus is minimal on the local population compared to many areas – for now. How did we do that? By following the stay at home order and limiting contact. By washing our hands. By wearing masks when leaving the home for essential activities. By accepting public health guidelines. By relying on science and facts.
The community’s efforts, combined with the resources made available by local, state and federal agencies, were aligned with the criteria to safely reopen parts of the economy and move forward.
Is it frustrating to see closed storefronts, not be able to get that sorely needed haircut or enjoy performances from our vibrant arts and entertainment sector? You bet it is. Business owners and their staff are watching savings dwindle and face prospects of losing their livelihoods. It’s scary for many, nay, all of us.
The planned rally could mark a turning point from public health and safety priorities to divisive politics – if organizers are joined by a large crowd of locals, which at this time appears doubtful.
After weeks of shelter in place and now gradual reopening, throwing all that effort away for a reckless free for all is like a double fault at match point – in my opinion.