Hello Northern Arizona! I hope You are fine. Long months have passed, and with the longest spring I can remember stretching into summer, we face greater uncertainty. The COVID-19 numbers in Arizona continue to rise, they are spreading, and we don't know when the numbers will weaken, let alone decrease. This creates insecurity for families, companies and employees.
Right now we're not sure what the 2020 school year will be like, but we know that keeping kids at home is a challenge for many. Students do not have equal access to technology, creating unequal opportunities for students to continue their education online. You may have cell phones but no computer access. You may not have access to the internet at all. Students, teachers, and staff may have health problems or a medically vulnerable family member that makes it dangerous for them to return to face-to-face classes. We ask teachers to prepare for a school year when no one knows what the next week will be like.
Companies and employees are also in a state of uncertainty. This week, several Flagstaff operations made the difficult decision to voluntarily close their doors to protect the health of their employees and customers. Others have cut their working hours and closed dining rooms. There are new mandatory closings across the country, and it's hard not to wonder if Arizona is next. All of the world's eyes are on Arizona right now, and none of this is good for business, especially in areas that rely on tourism.
As mayor, I am only able to implement new security measures to a limited extent. This power was anticipated by the governor. I was able to implement a mask requirement and did so as quickly as I could. I believe that until we can slow down the spread of this virus, this virus will continue to affect the local economy. Northern Arizona relies on small businesses, businesses without large profit margins, and businesses where employees are closer to family. These are companies with a small number of employees, and when someone is sick, it can affect everything. We cannot go back to operations as usual until we can keep people safe. Stopping the spread is an economic problem.
At the state level, we see a lack of action against a failing unemployment system and a need for more support for small businesses. Additional unemployment insurance and evacuation protection will expire soon, as will measures to offer mortgage relief. There is no plan to expand this to protect families and small businesses. A nationwide economic recovery is not planned. There are limits to what local government can do – we don't have the authority or the resources of higher levels of government – and rural communities only got $ 0.66 for every $ 1 that went to Phoenix. In the city we're going to do all we can, but I believe the state of Arizona needs a plan and then the leadership will need the political will and resources to carry it out. FBN
From Coral Evans
Coral Evans is the Mayor of Flagstaff.