Your money or your life
Why should the Pentecostals in La Grande have all the fun? Multnomah County, and its county seat of Portlandia, "reopen" in "Phase 1" tomorrow.
You can eat in a restaurant, drink in a bar. Get a haircut, work out in a gym. Have a party with 25 people.
It's going to be different from what it was before the plague, though. The restaurants and bars are supposed to have tables six feet apart, the servers have to wear masks, and closing time is 10 p.m. The hair places are supposed to give you some sort of health check before you show up, and no walk-ins are allowed. The gym has to limit the number of people working out at any given time. Gatherings are supposed to be locals-only. Your cousin from out of town can't be invited.
There now – feel safe?
That sound you hear is money talking, of course. We know it's not safe, we know that lifting restrictions will lead to more people getting extremely sick and dying, and we know that hospitals could be slammed. But we have to get more people back to work. Because the economy.
It's not because the virus is easing off. The numbers don't lie. Multnomah County isn't doing so hot lately in terms of infections.
The county’s most recent batch of health indicators, reported for the week ending June 5, was troubling, including a huge spike in cases among people of color, who were 15 times as likely as white Multnomah residents to test positive for the virus that week....Since then, case counts have continued to mount, with 37 new cases reported Monday, 42 on Tuesday and 34 on Wednesday. The seven-day average case count in Multnomah County has increased five-fold since May 26, and the same statistic for hospitalizations was creeping upward.
But the politicians are being blunt, for once. They need the money. A lot of people do. So let's open things back up, and have everybody make their own tradeoff decisions. Save Grandma's life or spend the evening at the bar.
It's probably good news for the mayor, who had protesters outside his Pearl District condo all night last night. The marchers tried to set up an "autonomous zone" on the street there. Maybe when the bars open, half the kids will go get an overhopped IPA, look for love, and let the mayor work on his jigsaw puzzle in peace.
And of course, it's a long-awaited moment for the restaurant and bar owners. Streets like Mississippi and Alberta have been ghostly quiet for months. Come happy hour tomorrow, they'll start rocking again.
Will the patrons wear masks and stay six feet apart? Maybe for the first 10 minutes. Will everybody go home at 10 o'clock? Surely you jest. Will the cops come and start handing out tickets? It remains to be seen, but probably not.
Portland is going to have one hell of a party weekend. And the hangover won't be here until after Fourth of July. But it will be a bad one.
If you were born before 1960, nothing has changed for the better, and the stakes are still as high as they come. So you had better not act differently from what you've been doing for the last few months. If anything, it's going to be more dangerous out there than ever.
Younger people, on the other hand, can and will roll the dice. I know I would if I were 25 years old. The millennials gave us three months. Now the show must go on.