Over-reacting to a problem can be as bad, or worse, than under-reacting.
Yes, “err on the side of caution” is good advice.
But politicians in some parts of the country are erring badly in addressing the pandemic.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry raised a few eyebrows when he held a press conference – smack in the middle of President Trump’s Town Hall meeting – and threatened people who do not follow his advice.
He issued an executive order decreeing that all employees of local businesses who can work from home stay at home and those who do go to work stay six feet apart.
“If I continue to hear that there’s not compliance, I’ll use all the resources available to me, to identify those situations. And, as I said, the power of enforcement is condemnation,” Curry said.
What he meant is unclear.
But he went on to say that any business found to be in violation could have its utilities cut off, presumably meaning electric, water and garbage services provided by the city.
As well-intentioned as that may be, it would be draconian and rather difficult to enforce.
Most businesses are struggling to survive already. The owners of those businesses have as much concern for their employees as Curry does, if not more. Many have been taking precautions since the coronavirus scare first came on the scene. The last thing they need is to lose water and electricity.
Curry said he and the sheriff are considering a curfew but hoped it would not be necessary.
Businesses in Jacksonville and elsewhere probably will find that in today’s world it is not necessary to have everyone in the office all day.
When I was a reporter – long before cell phones and computers – I rarely went to the newsroom. I spent all day at the police station, courthouse or City Hall, where the news was. Sitting in an office was just a waste of time, for the most part.
It is quite likely that many employees can be just as effective at home with videoconferencing and that workplace practices will change forever as a result of the current health crisis.
Curry so far is jawboning. Officials in other cities and states have gone further in ordering citizens what to do or not do. Some may even have exceeded their authority. We hope Curry doesn’t go there in an effort to keep the city safe.
Trump’s approach is more hopeful and more directed to individual action, while keeping the government focused on doing what it is supposed to do — as opposed to the media’s doom-and-gloom coverage that often seems to consist mainly of criticism directed at Trump.
The best moment of Curry’s press conference probably was when he gave this advice: “If you’re a person of faith, pray for our city. Pray for our people.”