The following is an open letter written to elected decision-makers in Florida grappling with coronavirus plans. It was written by the Tampa Bay Young Republicans president on behalf of the organization.
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To Hillsborough County Elected Officials,
It was clear to the thousands of constituents that listened and contributed to your Emergency Policy Group teleconference today that we are NOT prepared to endure any real emergencies in the City of Tampa, especially in synchrony with leaders around the Tampa Bay region.
While we all as a community want the best possible health outcome at a time like this, the Tampa Bay Young Republicans have a sincere concern that logic and proper planning will succumb to public hysteria. We write this letter today to implore the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County to RESIST THE URGE TO MANDATE A SHUTDOWN OR CURFEW! Individuals are self-quarantining and schools, beaches, and restaurants are already closed. The vast majority of the population will continue to take additional public advice seriously, which is why we want to stress that it does not need to be done through direct government intervention.
Right now, we are comparing the wonderful City of Tampa to much denser and more populated cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco which are currently battling to see who can take the most dramatic action to try and flatten the curve and, in turn, override the most civil liberties while their citizens flock to Florida for sanity.
At this point in time, it feels as if we are making drastic political decisions with vast consequences for small businesses and all individuals in the county, based on inaccurate information, inaccurate statistics, a lack of medical supplies, and most importantly no plan of action. When asked point blank about what metrics we are using to measure effectiveness of a shutdown or how we know such a policy would be rescinded, Congresswoman Castor had no answer.
Many of our members are small business owners and when we started our companies we had to present a business plan that had structure, goals, and an exit strategy. For the government to come in and shut those same businesses down they should be required to provide the same basic information.
Therefore, before another Emergency Policy vote is called for such actions as a pointless curfew or complete city shutdown, the TBYR would like to request the following information:
1) What is the rough timeline for which any of these proposed policies will stay enacted?
2) What metrics will we track in order to decide when these policies have been deemed effective?
3) How will these ordinances be enacted and to what extent will law enforcement be involved? What will the recourse be for those ignoring curfews or refusing to shut down business?
4) What will the City of Tampa or Hillsborough County do to ease the financial burden they are placing on their citizens other than redirecting us to the SBA or other state and federal programs? How will this be financed?
5) If local government shuts down “non-essential” commerce, will they suspend pay for themselves and all government employees as well?
We understand these are difficult questions to answer, but these are difficult times and this is why we elect strong leaders who are willing to take swift action, instead of refusing to be held responsible and passing the buck to the next person; which is what is on full display right now.
Lastly, we want to see our healthcare system in this county receive the proper testing kits and tools needed to do their jobs effectively. This may require us to attract innovative solutions and act boldly around the federal response, but it is the most important aspect of any successful plan, much like what they did in South Korea. The Young Republicans do not want to and should not have to be the adults in the room in this situation, but it is clear based on the lack of coordination amongst our leaders that someone needs to step up and advocate for real planning and leadership.
The Tampa Bay Young Republicans – President, Jake Hoffman