I’m a creature of habit and will be beyond thrilled when it’s safe for us all to go back to our normal lives.
But there are a few things I think we can all take away from even just the past week in isolation. Here are a few of those:
Remote and flexible workplaces are indeed possible: Though many local governments struggled to connect workers remotely, it’s just as clear that most workplaces have always been capable of allowing people to work remotely and in more flexible situations beyond a traditional 9 to 5 setup, and they simply didn’t want to allow those. Governments, to their credit I guess, are also petrified of being accused of wasting taxpayer money and for that reason have been wary of letting workers outside of supervisors’ sights. Yet government workforces are increasingly aging, and it’s in their best interest to recruit and retain young workers. If they can’t do it with competitive salaries, they must be open to allowing remote and flexible work.
Some social distancing is great: When we return to business as usual, I hope we’ve shed completely any feeling of obligation to hug or kiss cheeks in professional settings. I’ve also been a runner for more than two decades, and no matter where you live, one truism is that people will either allow you to physically barrel them over, or watch unflinchingly as you’re forced to run in a busy street before they will voluntarily cede a single inch of space. Yet for the past week, people have for the most part responsibly moved to the edge of the sidewalk – that is, they’re finally behaving the way they should have all along! – and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
(This, by the way, is why my eyes roll out of my head when people argue about scooters cluttering sidewalks. Until we outlaw people walking their dogs on 12 feet of leash, or couples and groups who refuse to walk single file, sidewalks will always be unnavigable.)
We appreciate journalists, and restaurant and grocery store workers, more than ever: One small silver lining of the Muslim ban and President Donald Trump’s other horrific immigration policies seems to have been instilling an appreciation for the work of lawyers, who in good times are sometimes derided as ambulance chasers or whatever. Now, grocery store workers have become the unlikely heroes of an international crisis, and communities suddenly are desperate for and appreciative of restaurants, journalism and other hallmarks of our daily life.
What VOSD Learned This Week
I couldn’t be more proud of the way this team has sprung into action to provide San Diegans with useful and relevant information that people are seeking desperately right now. Here’s what that entailed this week:
Politicians and other government workers respond to the crisis, they say they’re being guided by what went wrong during the city’s hepatitis A crisis. As government officials urge people to stay inside, they’ve struggled to follow their own directives when it comes to allowing employees to work remotely. And county officials initially said there was no shortage of medical supplies even as hospitals told a different story; after our story published county officials changed their tune. They’re also struggling to ramp up a complex system to protect homeless residents who cannot self quarantine.
Plenty of San Diegans are staying put – which means massive drops in MTS ridership numbers, which could trigger service cutbacks. Speaking of everyone staying home, what, exactly, is the guidance on going outdoors?
The first elected official in California to announce a positive COVID-19 test was Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla, who spoke with Andrew Keatts about his experience. (Padilla has since been hospitalized in very serious condition.) We talked about Padilla and the new world of politics on this week’s podcast. Scott and Andy also delved into just how different campaigning and elections will look. And social isolation is also throwing a major wrench in census outreach, which relies on face-to-face interactions.
It may feel like regular life has ground to a halt, but there is other news beyond the coronavirus.
We obtained documents that detail the extent to which government officials rushed to get the 101 Ash St. project online even as continuing concerns emerged.
And welcome our new environmental reporter MacKenzie Elmer, who picked a helluva month to start a new reporting job.
What I’m Reading
- This is absolutely horrifying behavior by Sens. Richard Burr and Kelly Loefller, and a reminder that investigative journalism is more important than ever. (ProPublica, Daily Beast)
- This is a refreshing perspective that drives home that our path forward is looking out for one another. (The Walrus)
- The government stalled and stonewalled more coronavirus tests, and this infuriating account details how. (GQ)
- What it’s like to be pregnant in the midst of a pandemic. (New York)
Line of the Week
“She had quit cocaine years earlier, after spending ‘one excruciating night’ at Quentin Tarantino’s house, listening to him and Anderson brag. ‘Every addict should just get locked in a private movie theatre with Q.T. and P.T.A. on coke, and they’ll never want to do it again,’ she joked.” – This profile of Fiona Apple is just what I needed.