Sidewalk cafes that have sprung up around Jefferson like toadstools after a rain certainly look charming. The picnic tables covered by beach shelters remind one of Rome or Paris. Unfortunately, those famous European restaurants are closed because thousands of people are dying there from the COVID-19 virus.
While some may think skirting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order banning dine-in food service is a clever improvisation to meet an unusual situation, we believe the alfresco cafe scene sends the wrong message at a horribly wrong time.
Jefferson Mayor Pro tem Victor Perot said the restaurants have been instructed that their customers must maintain social distancing rules at the outdoor tables.
“It concerns me from the standpoint that we still have to have social distancing,” Perot said. “They are being told that people have to maintain 10 feet.”
Perot said he and County Judge Leward LaFleur are following the lead of Gov. Abbott who declined Sunday to consider a state-wide shelter in place order.
“We’re dependent a lot on leadership at the top which is Gov. Abbott,” Perot said. “As a city and a county we have decided not to do that (shelter in place).
“That is our decision.”
While some may find it comforting to know that the community’s top leadership has considered the move many places like Dallas County have taken, we believe stricter measures at this time will save lives in just a few weeks.
The math of this pandemic is undeniable. If we do not flatten the curve, the coming wave will crush our healthcare system, particularly in a county with 26.4 percent of the population over the age of 65.
We certainly want to support the many great Jefferson restaurants. They are one of the defining characteristics of our community, but for the duration of this crisis their service should be limited, as the governor said, to take-out, delivery or drive through.
The outside table service reflects a minimalist attitude out of step with the gravity of this crisis. Rather than doing the minimum to get by or to comply, maximum effort is what is required. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “People sometimes think that you’re overreacting. I like it when people are thinking I’m overreacting because that means we’re doing it just right.”
There is a difference between being clever and being smart. We need to be smart.
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