North Carolina can move forward on COVID-19 by trusting its citizens more

Published April 30, 2020

By Ray Nothstine

It’s fascinating to read and listen to all the different analyses for reopening large parts of states and the economy during the Covid-19 crisis. While I’m no expert on the epidemiology, even the casual reader must know now, there are a lot of different takes on how to move forward by experts in their field. The notion that “following the science” leads to a one size fits all lock-down policy no longer makes as much sense.

But for the purposes of this post, I think it’s important to primarily talk about people over data and numbers. It occurred to me when I was at Lowe’s Home Improvement multiple times this weekend, just how tight people were packed in there. It was certainly more crowded than usual even for a weekend. This makes sense, more people are home right now and have extended time for home improvement projects. At any rate, it seemed like one of those scenes that governors, politicians, and most health experts are trying to avoid during this pandemic. Lowe’s is certainly raking in money hand over fist, at least near me, and earning reports should at least please stockholders.

I’m not picking on Lowe’s it’s just where I was this weekend. But if somebody owns a restaurant or some other small business in North Carolina and looks out upon that scene; they would easily observe the unfairness of it all. Why is Lowe’s trusted to implement social distancing measures in their own stores and not the little guy or woman? And all the more so in a retail store with a lot less foot traffic than Lowe’s?

I know the gas station/convenience store Sheetz is not a small business but they are certainly smaller than Lowe’s and it’s not a company that is publicly traded. I’ve been impressed with how their business has promoted cleanliness and good hygiene tips throughout their stores, which I’ve patronized on a number of occasions of late. Sheetz is way ahead of another big business that I won’t name but it’s a popular big pharmacy chain that is present nationwide. Sheetz is constantly cleaning and wiping things down and appears to be going the extra mile for its staff and customers. They have glass shields at checkout (at least where I have been), and plenty of signage related to Covid-19 education.

At any rate, the point is we need to trust business leaders and the people of this state more than we do now. Let’s trust them to be good citizens and to take the necessary precautions so we can have more businesses open to salvage small and medium-sized commerce.

Freedom requires virtue. This is something America’s founders continually stressed. We need to allow for our own government and authorities to trust the citizenry to manage this crisis and protect public health too. A reopening plan can’t be effectively micromanaged from Raleigh. We’ve already seen the disaster of that with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan decreeing state mandates for what might make sense in the Detroit area, yet makes no sense in virtually unaffected places, such as Michigan’s Upper Penninsula.

Local leaders need to be empowered and should be able to push back against state directives in certain cases so livelihoods aren’t completely destroyed. Likewise, the people are still the government and it’s okay to pushback and seek unanswered questions over Covid-19 policies and timelines. You shouldn’t be made to feel like you want people to die or have no compassion for grandma or grandpa because you are asking questions.

At any rate, as an observer, I’ve noticed that small businesses can effectively, and in many cases, more effectively implement social distancing and safety precautions to protect citizens in this state. Fortunately, I think it’s become obvious to more and more people that the one-size-fits-all management and arbitrary closings are no longer fair or make much sense.