Congressman Josh Harder realizes that the coronavirus pandemic is going to massively impact not just the national economy, but the local one as well.
And in a phone town hall on Monday, Harder assured concerned residents that he would be working hard to advocate for the valley and its residents in Congress as experts work to get a handle on the rapidly-spreading virus which is shutting down large portions of the American economy as people stay home. Harder opened up the call to questions from people in the community.
A woman from Manteca, Lisa, wanted to know about the impact to small business – especially minority and family-owned businesses that are considered non-essential and are having to shut their doors in order to comply with state orders.
“If you compare this to the 2008 economic crisis, and think of it as a car, in 2008 there was one part of the car that had a lot of problems – banking,” Harder said. “Now it’s like every part of the car is coming off. The entire economy is frozen – not just one sector.
“We need to restart this economy as soon as possible, and the first thing that we can do to start that is eradicate this disease as much as possible. When we get the danger of the public health crisis under control, the better off we will all be.”
Over the course of the last several weeks, Harder, a Turlock Democrat, has used technology to connect with concerned residents that are unsure about what will happen next in the face of the emerging coronavirus threat. On Monday, an automated dialer went out to thousands of his constituents, inviting them to join the telephone town hall and giving an opportunity to ask questions directly to Harder which he then addressed and answered in a conversational format.
One man from Modesto asked Harder what can be done about people that are defying shelter-in-place and social-distancing orders, which he saw as a surefire way of extending the health crisis.
Harder deferred to Interim San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Maggie Park, who informed the man that egregious violations are being forwarded on to law enforcement for follow-up and potential penalty.
“I’m personally seeing people congregating as if they are some kind of vacation – I wish they would take the order more seriously,” Park said. “We do not have the capability as Public Health to enforce the Governor’s order, but we’re continuing our messaging and if necessary, talking to local law enforcement about admonishing people and warning people in an educational way before they punish.
“If it gets to that point, your local law enforcement may go that route.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.