Arlene Violet: Things are far from normal

By Arlene Violet
Posted 12/11/20

As the pandemic pummels the population, particularly in the United States, including Rhode Island, far too many folks have surrendered to pandemic fatigue. Governor Gina Raimondo has imposed a …

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Arlene Violet: Things are far from normal


As the pandemic pummels the population, particularly in the United States, including Rhode Island, far too many folks have surrendered to pandemic fatigue. Governor Gina Raimondo has imposed a “pause” for 2 weeks, a decision which should be lauded based on the amount of travel and congregation that occurred over Thanksgiving. Instead, the governor is the target of rants and raves. Her detractors are dead wrong.

The coast to coast surge is pushing health care to the brink of catastrophe. Folks who are COVID clear are jeopardized if they need a bed for important or near-critical operations. Field hospitals in Rhode Island had to be opened. Doctors and nurses already pushed to the edge of exhaustion are suffering staff shortages which also endanger them and their patients. By the end of November, more than 218,400 health care workers have contracted the virus with a conservative estimate of 800 deaths, an estimated 12 percent of U.S. population compared to approximately 3 to 4 percent of the general population (TIME Nov. 30/Dec. 7, p. 46). Those without COVID are suffering as well, with worsening mental health issues. What might help them is compliance with the health care parameters rather than the constant railing against public officials who are trying their utmost to curb the spread.

Rather than demonize the governor, her detractors ought to find the culprit of the spread by looking into the mirror. That restaurant and/or gym or small business are being crippled because quite possibly the persons looking back have let down their vigilance. Ms. Raimondo isn’t the villain; those who argue that the pandemic is a farce and who won’t comply with safety regulations are to blame.

After the Dakotas became a burgeoning cauldron of COVID disease, several unmasked citizens stood at a microphone opining that the government has no right to tell them how to dress. I flashed back to being in New York City shortly after 9/11. The Empire State citizens would visit firehouses and police stations dropping off sweets, flowers, and other expressions of gratitude to the first responders. How far away are we today from those unifying moments? Instead of having a commitment of protection for one another, far too many folks are jaw-boning about perceived deficiencies in the governor’s response.

One example is money for small businesses. Many millions of dollars have been distributed. The governor did make a mistake by pegging the “pause” distribution to profits reported in the 2019 tax returns. The tax laws are geared to benefit folks who don’t report large profits by benefitting from deductions like entertainment (meals which they eat, also) and amortization of equipment over years even though the product was paid for years before, etc. She got it right pretty quickly by pegging the 2 week assistance to September 2020 gross receipts (when attendance at places like restaurants were at two-thirds instead of today’s one-third, thereby giving a cushion). While her critics jabbed her, nonetheless, it is not in the public interest to put taxpayer money into the coffers of those who plan to go out of business or who have no intention of maintaining staff. Money is needed also for freezers to preserve the vaccine and to pay staff already working.
Let’s try to judge our actions, rather than just hers.

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.