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COVID-19

COVID-19 in Washington County – Does anyone care?

Sorry if this is similar to yesterday, but SSDD as they say (Same Sh$#, Different Day). Today’s episode of “Let’s Spread Coronavirus” was at Cub Foods in Stillwater. A visit on a Friday at 1:00 pm found the parking lot full and the store full of people. No effort to limit entry, no effort at social distancing, they did have a spray bottle of (presumably) sanitizer by the entry, but poorly labeled. Again, like at Costco – Maplewood yesterday, it’s just hard to believe. Unlike at Costco, though, I did today what I should have done yesterday; I turned around and left.

What I’m really having trouble understanding is the complete lack of effort by the businesses. I get it that people are goofy and do what they do, but as a responsible business owner who is lucky enough to be able to be open in this time, you owe it to your community to do the right thing. You need to put someone out in front of the store and limit the number of people who can enter at once. Obviously this is going to be different for each business, but it’s a mandatory first step. For a place like Costco or Cub, it’s an excellent opportunity to check in with each customer, make sure they sanitize the frequently touched surfaces, understand the importance of social distancing and perhaps make sure that anyone with a cough is wearing a mask. Then maybe have a couple of people patrolling the store to make sure that people continue to distance. And someone managing the checkout lanes to keep people spread out. As a business owner, I understand that this is going to incur labor costs without adding revenue. In fact, revenue is going to suffer because you won’t be able to sell as much. And my response to that is, so what? Again, you’re fortunate to be open and be able to serve your community. Do it responsibly.

As with yesterday, I don’t want to pick on Cub exclusively. On our way home we cruised by the Kowalski’s in Stillwater and found the very same situation: packed parking lot and no one seemingly giving a damn about Coronavirus. For completeness sake, we also cruised Aldi in Stillwater and the very same again. It’s mind boggling and hard to understand. I guess it is up to all of us to start demanding better.

UPDATE: My irritation got the better of me. I emailed Safeway (parent company of Cub Foods) with my observations and perhaps a little opinion about unsafe and irresponsible business practices. Inspired, I went on to send a note to Ms. Shelly Christensen, my state representative and Ms. Karin Housley, my state senator as well as Governor Walz to express my concerns. Then Chloé and I walked down to the co-op to get some onions (as a home cook, what recipe doesn’t start with onions?). It was a more favorable experience, but not because the co-op was doing anything special, it’s just naturally much less crowded. On my way out the door I caught the Pioneer Press headline: 89 Cases and Counting the headline screams. Duh.