OLYMPIA — Elected leaders at all levels of government have been asking, pleading and ordering us to stay home and become the best hermits we can be.
It’s all about promoting social distancing to stem the spread of COVID-19.
This week, the mayor of Lake Stevens added a twist to the effort: He wants to ration when the city’s residents leave home to shop, bank and carry out other chores.
An emergency stay-home proclamation issued Monday by Mayor Brett Gailey recommends citizens conduct “essential activities” on certain days. Those with last names beginning in A through M get the even-numbered days — for example, March 26 — and those with N through Z get the odd ones.
Gailey said he was trying to come up with a way to curb the kind of congregating he witnessed at grocery stores.
“There’s no science behind it,” he told me Tuesday. “I just thought it might be a method of promoting social distancing by thinning crowds. I ran it by a couple council members and staff and they thought the last name idea was interesting and good.”
He posted the order on the city’s Facebook page. Fans thanked him. Critics deemed it an overreach. And there were humorists among the nearly 450 responses.
“If I have a hyphenated last name like Adams-Wilson, can I go out for essential activities on even AND odd days??” wrote one man.
On Tuesday, Gailey returned to Facebook to clarify his motivations and erase concerns about police checkpoints for enforcement.
“I established the RECOMMENDATION of conducting our essential activities by a division of our last names,” he wrote. “The idea is to reduce the numbers of people in the areas of our essential activities by curtailing how often we are there. I do not expect our businesses to police this recommendation, I believe our citizens can work within the concept of this order.”
Pressure on aerospace
A $2 trillion package of federal aid to ease the health crisis and economic disruption caused by COVID-19 came together early Wednesday in the nation’s capital.
Now Matt Yerbic, chief executive officer of Aviation Technical Services (ATS) at Paine Field in Everett, must figure out what it’s going to mean for the work his company does — maintenance, repair and overhaul.
There’s a $25 billion allotment for the airline industry, of which a portion is for loans and loan guarantees for aircraft repair firms, he said. It’ll take time to sort out what’s required to qualify and when the funds could become available, he noted.
It’s a much different concern than he had over the weekend. Then he was deeply worried the benefits for companies like his would slip through the legislative cracks, with so much focus on rescuing airlines.
He praised U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell for not letting that happen.
“I’m really pleased with the hard work our electeds did to get us into the bill,” he said. “While this is all getting sorted out, we’ll still have to find a way to survive.”
Airlines hire ATS to do the heavy maintenance on aircraft that are in service. Not many passenger planes are flying right now. That isn’t going to change in the immediate future. With a shrinking amount of work, Yerbic’s firm has had to shed employees temporarily.
“We think that it’s really important that the businesses do what they can to support U.S. businesses with the (taxpayer) funds in the package,” he said.
ATS is turning 50 this year. The federal bill may prove critical to the company’s ability to make it to 51.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.