By Victoria Metcalf
Special to Plumas News
Plumas County business representatives poled in a recent survey expressed positive and negative concerns regarding COVID-19 regulations.
A small group calling itself Community Conversations updated members of the Board of Supervisors on recent results of a COVID-19 survey during the board’s July 7 meeting.
Five questions were asked of local business operators during face-to-face interviews during the last few weeks.
“Our intentions were just to discover data,” said Quincy resident Jan Terhune. “Our current focus is education and a willingness to examine all sides of the complex COVID-19 situation.”
Terhune said members of the group promised the 90 respondents they would take the survey results to supervisors.
- Did you agree with this lockdown?
Forty-four said yes; 35 said no; and 14 were on a scale of Yes to No.
Comments: Some were undecided due to so few cases in Plumas County. Some were in favor in the beginning, but wavered as economic hardship set in. Some said we are opening up too fast and that if all the measures were followed now, there wouldn’t have to have another lockdown.
There were numerous comments about what has been deemed to be an “essential business.”
Some stated, “This must not occur again.” Others said that though the lockdown has been hard on businesses, the health of the community is the number one priority.
- What percentage of loss have you incurred due to the lockdown: 0-25 percent, 26-50 percent, 51-75 percent, 76-100 percent?
Thirty-one responded that they had lost none to 25 percent of revenues; 19 lost 26 to 50 percent; 19 lost 51 to 75 percent; and 24 lost 76 to 100 percent of their business.
Comments: some business respondents were blunt, “This lockdown just ruined me.” Others were relatively unharmed but compassionate for those greatly affected, Terhune explained.
One businessperson said that Environmental Health made negative comments about tourism and lodging establishments, encouraging citizens to use a hotline to report non-compliance, thus casting a negative light on the businesses that survive on tourism.
Representatives of establishments serving food said they were negatively impacted due to cost increases for takeout supplies and credit card use fees.
Some said they wished they would have been trusted to reopen with appropriate safety measures. They also thought the lockdown went on too long.
“One business owner stated that the tourists behaved more appropriately than the locals who are making it more difficult to open safely,” according to Terhune.
- Given the economic impact, would you support another lockdown? A yes or no answer.
Twenty-five said yes; 44 said no and 22 were on a scale between yes and no.
Comments: Several spoke of the difficulty of getting employees to come back to work. They thought it was mainly because higher unemployment payments were a major factor.
- Where have you received most of your information about the COVID-19 situation? Mainstream media including TV and radio; social media with Internet site; or government sources including federal, state and local?
Forty-seven indicated the mainstream media; 40 said social media; 41 said internet sites; 52 said government sources including local agencies; and two used professional sites.
Comments: There is a need for clear and scientifically based education. “Many felt that there is increasing mistrust in government agencies and in the reliability of the information available on social media, Internet and the mainstream media world,” according to group representative Seamus Gallagher.
- Moving forward, how can our community support you?
Most participants said it was by shopping locally. “Some were clear about appreciation for the Quincy folks that were spending their dollars locally through this challenging time,” Gallagher said.
- Clear and coordinated leadership was a strong theme with an apparent lack of leadership on part of the Board of Supervisors, public health and environmental health. There was frustration about getting conflicting information.
- Provide support with required signage, masks and disinfectant costs.
- Work together as a community — collective marketing — having compassion and patience.
- Education — wanting citizens to get educated about the constitution — great concern about the general direction we are headed.
- Wishing we had an urgent care facility.
- Wishing that our newspaper were still going in print form.
- One owner summed it up for himself and said, “Just leave us alone!”
“The salient themes that emerged from our survey are: 1) strong need for coordinated local leadership; 2) clear and accurate sources for information; 3) a more concerted effort to encourage spending dollars locally; and 4) addressing the inequities about what is considered an essential business,” according to Gallagher.
Supervisor Lori Simpson said she and others were in constant contact with the state over orders concerning COVID-19.
Simpson added that at the first opportunity she intended to write an editorial about the situation and what supervisors have done.
Supervisor and Chairperson Kevin Goss directed members of the group to leave their information in the office with the Secretary to the Board of Supervisors Nancy DaForno. He said he would personally follow-up with the group.