Jefferson Council, Chamber Make Case for Opening Economy

Todd Cropped
Jefferson Chamber President Todd Murphy

METAIRIE – The Jefferson Parish Council has passed a resolution urging Gov. John Bel Edwards to begin easing statewide “phase 2” restrictions. Meanwhile, Jefferson Chamber President Todd Murphy argues in a letter to members that government officials have moved the goalposts by focusing on number of confirmed COVID-19 cases instead of hospitalization metrics.

“We certainly heeded the shocking but credible warnings in mid-March,” wrote Murphy. “We stood by our Parish President, Council, sheriff, coroner and numerous health experts all along the five plus-month shutdown. We begged our members to be patient and tried to have fun with music videos showing people how to wash their hands. Really, we did that! And, we have worked tirelessly to get much needed financial resources to our community, many forced to work at zero, 25% or 50% capacity, hardly how their business plans were designed.

“Today, we are inundated with rhetoric of ‘number of cases.’ To that we ask, what happened to the primary metrics of concern (from the governor’s executive proclamation of March 22) of ‘the extraordinary threat of COVID-19 has caused critical shortages of healthcare equipment, personal protection equipment and possible shortages in hospital beds?’ …  All of those early metric concerns are trending downward.”

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The Chamber’s board of directors believes a safe reopening as noted in the Council’s Resolution is warranted.

“When all the leading indicators for the shutdown are favorable, and stores begin selling hand sanitizer for two-for-the price of one deals, it is time to reopen,” wrote Murphy. “We are creating a different kind of pandemic by further restrictions. Unemployment is double from what we thought was the biggest impediment to employment of our lifetimes, Hurricane Katrina. Our members are seeking out help for bankruptcy, property sales, and mental health concerns.

“As a leader of free enterprise, we are consistent in our messaging for elected leaders to impose sensible guidelines for the overall safety and comfort of the community and then to let public choice and competition dictate which businesses succeed. In this case, after almost six months of safety awareness, patrons and businesses alike shall make informed choices. Older people and those predisposed to this virus need to seriously heed the warnings and the statistics. But, for the remaining majority, and for the physical, mental, financial, and economic health of the citizens of our region, people need to be able to make those choices.”

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