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How dare Manteca re-open parks & push for personal responsibility
manteca skate park
The Manteca skate park is now reopened.

Less than three hours after the City of Manteca posted on its Facebook page that it was reopening parks and listed some rules along with the advisory the city would not be sanitizing playground and other outdoor equipment, the inevitable happened. People started slamming the city for not protecting them.

It ran the gamut from the city was encouraging the spread of COVID-19 by simply reopening parks to a rage over the fact the city would not be sanitizing playground equipment so therefore were putting kids’ lives at risk.

The city was even mocked for reminding people in big letters that use of the parks is “AT YOUR OWN RISK.”

It goes without saying if the idea of you having to sanitize your child’s hands after they use playground equipment revolts you maybe you should not take your kids to the park. And if you believe the city should have attendants assigned to every park being paid $15 an hour plus benefits wiping down equipment then perhaps you should also commit to — and follow through on voting — for any tax measure the city advances so they can give you everything you want.

Cities have gotten the short end of the stick on this one because for the most part they are not making the rules for dealing with the pandemic but are stuck with enforcing them.

Folks in Sacramento may get pushback but they are so far from the frontlines on this one that it is not funny. City officials can see things right in front of them that don’t make sense to apply the same rules to as they are required to do in San Francisco. Yet, they must follow Sacramento’s lead.

We are on the verge of having 40 million people living in a state of 163,696 square miles. A one-size fits all approach assumes all conditions from infection rates to other variables are the same.

Was it irresponsible for the city to re-open the parks while not having a small army in place to sanitize playground equipment after every child uses it as well as not limiting access to one child at a time?

The city did make it clear you should probably bring your own hand sanitizer and soap while reminding you that one uses the park at one’s own risk.

That should provide you with enough information that you can weigh the risks as they pertain to yourself and your household and then make a decision about what is right for you.

The city’s act was not an irresponsible decision as they clearly stated practical advice and then left it up to people to decide whether to venture forth into what some perceive to be parks of horrors in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for the city encouraging a second surge, when did anyone say there wouldn’t be a second surge from the time the pandemic was declared? The spread of a virus is not like a forest fire. Letting a fire burn until it exhausts itself by claiming everything in its path might indeed prevent another fire from ravishingly the same forest for decades but it doesn’t work that way with viruses. By the same token you may be able to stop a fire in a particular forest but it doesn’t render the area fireproof. Another fire can start where the other left off.

Essentially going absolutely down either path — opening everything up or locking things down even tighter — means there will be a death toll.

But that is where the rub comes in. Most people would argue at some point that any death toll is unacceptable because it references multiple people dying and doing so from a virus they might have been able to avoid getting if their behavior and that of others was more quarantine like.

Those that seem to give less weight to people dying are seen as essentially saying “so be it’” and callously accepting the deaths of people. On the flip side those who argue that all risk needs to be neutered before moving forward are pushing for something unattainable even if we all ventured out in space suits to go shopping or to use parks.

The pandemic is fluid and uneven. There are steps that most experts agree seem to have an effect at reducing the spread. The issue becomes at what point do the tradeoffs make the most sense given the odds are overwhelming we can never conquer it.

It is why the city opening the parks should serve as proving ground of sorts as to how we can live with the COVID-19 going forward and how we can live with each other when we have our own unique set of fears, needs, and health concerns.

We need to be proactive in protecting ourselves and at the same time respect others. Given the downhill course we’ve been on in this country for the better part of two decades regarding the civility of interactions with others we disagree with you could argue that would be a major challenge.

But why not make simple decisions such as whether to make a trip to the park and how we conduct ourselves there if we do a litmus test of how we can do better.

We should be able to function without government assuming the role of hired nanny to wipe down playground equipment to assuage our fears.

We should be able to respect others’ space.

We should exercise — our rights and our bodies — while showing common courtesy. That means we should also let others that act responsibly to exercise both as well.

We may find out we’re not as far gone as we think we are and that most people can get along with each other.

It would be a far cry from where we seem to be today in a world where we play absolutes off against each other when there is no way that can happen and have any sense of civilization.

There is no world that exists where you have absolute rights or can live with absolutely no risk.

Let’s see if we can tone down the rhetoric and not make a trip to a park seem — or sound like — an event that triggers Armageddon.

Going to the park should not be a life or death situation nor should it be considered a criminal act.