Tuesday, April 7

Writing: An Open Letter To Governor Sisolak Regarding COVID-19

Red Rock by Richard Becker


Dear Governor Sisolak,

As the parent of a softball player, the story of Jo’VInni “Jo” Smith really hit me today. Jo Smith was a young softball player who died from stress issues related to COVID-19 in California. She committed suicide.

Her story truly underscores the mental health issues taking hold in our communities as everybody handles isolation differently. It’s also the reason I decided to write to you today.

I appreciate the stay-at-home order and several things you are doing in the face of the coronavirus, including the COVID-19 Task Force, BattleBorn Medical Corps, and request for the National Guard to assist our state with logistics. I have even promoted these initiatives and plan to lend more support in those areas. So yes, I understand the seriousness of the situation and can appreciate, if not imagine, the challenges you face as Governor.

However, the time for our state to have a plan for recovery based on clearly defined parameters is NOW if for no other reason than to give people hope. Yes, I know there are many variables, but an “if this, then that” plan could provide people with a light at the end of this tunnel, which is so badly needed for so many Nevadans, especially those with mental health issues.

I also believe this plan should be created before any budget cuts as it could provide insight into possible revenue projections before they are necessary, especially with the consideration of something like a state lottery. In addition, a plan before cuts would allow Nevadans a breath between what has been a constant barrage of negative "not-good-enough" announcements.

Once the plan is announced and the defined parameters are met, the state could begin to loosen the stay-at-home order, in stages, for manufacturing, limited store visits beyond groceries, limited seating in restaurants, etc. This creates a positive, forward motion that people can get behind and will alleviate some stress and mental health issues.

Likewise, in the interim, I think talking more about how well Nevadans are doing great would be more effective than highlighting only the ones breaking the order with threats of increased punishing restrictions, which only amplifies the growing tension and mental stress of the crisis. Evidence suggests Nevadans are following the order better than most states. I respectfully encourage you to talk about what we are doing well, as most people are staying home for Nevada.

Please also know, while I appear critical of your performance during the crisis, my criticism of your performance (or the performance of any previous Governor for that matter) has never outweighed my love for Nevada. This has been my home since the 1970s, and I have served in many public and private leadership positions within our state for more than 30 years, in addition to teaching and building a small business.

That said, please do take care, keeping in mind that the best messages transform “you” and “them” into “we” for Nevada. Nobody wants to see people die of COVID-19 in Nevada, but neither do we want to see children commit suicide because of stress related to COVID-19.

Please do the right thing. I know you will.

 Sincerely,
 Richard Becker
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