Compassion and Cooperation

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

I have some practical news, and also some thoughts I’d like to share–not as an elected official, but simply as a father, a husband, and an El Pasoan experiencing the same hopes and concerns everyone’s grappling with now.

I’ve been diligently working with my colleagues in the El Paso legislative delegation alongside Mayor Margo and County Judge Samaniego on reopening El Paso. We’re all committed to balancing safety with what we know is a pressing need to get El Paso moving again. Together, we’ve been able to bring state resources here and provide Governor Abbott with the on-the-ground information that led to a unique reopening timeline for El Paso tailored to our community–one of only two region-specific plans approved throughout the state.

Here’s what to expect:

  • The planned openings for gyms, nonessential manufacturing, and offices at 25% capacity will move forward. Although it’s not a complete reopening, with some adjustments and creativity, most El Paso businesses can begin operating and many El Pasoans will be able to safely return to work.
  • Yesterday’s planned openings for massage parlors, personal-care services such as tattoo and piercing studios, and certain childcare services will be delayed until May 29th here in El Paso.

The next stage of reopening, which includes bars and some other entertainment facilities, will also be delayed until May 29th here in El Paso. The state Surge Response Team that’s here in town will remain in the coming days to help improve our testing capacity and overall response. Our size, location, and the international nature of our community mean that COVID-19 has progressed differently in El Paso, so we have to approach reopening differently as a result. This slight delay is going to let the Surge Response Team do its work and help us prepare to reopen both safely and quickly based on the best advice of medical and economic experts.

MOVING FORWARD

The reopening process hasn’t been easy, but nothing about any of this has been. Sadly, so much of that has nothing to do with the pandemic in and of itself.

On 9/11/01, I remember thinking, “this is the worst thing that’s happened to America in my lifetime.” That’s no longer true. And as bad as the virus itself is, it’s also exposed a terrible divide in our country, a hyper-partisanship so extreme that it’s undermining the American dream and the dream of America. I bring up 9/11 because things were different then. When terror was visited on us nearly two decades ago, we were immediately all Americans. Even if we didn’t completely live up to that ideal, at least we had it. Today, it feels like everything is viewed through a lens of identity-defining, reality-defying politics.

Instead of uniting in this time of crisis, so many of us have bought into narratives that set us at odds with one another. That’s no way to live.

We’re even politicizing the nonpolitical–science, medicine, and core values like caring for one another. It makes as much sense for there to be opposing liberal and conservative perspectives on wearing masks or avoiding public gatherings as it would for there to be political positions on whether to stop at stop signs or what the safe internal temperature is for a brisket.

I’m not bringing this up out of pessimism, but out of optimism: each and every day, we have the chance to choose a different approach. I encourage everyone to choose compassion and cooperation. We can disagree about what’s best, but let’s base our opinions on facts and expert analyses. When we’re unsure, let’s err on the side of taking care of other people. And let’s start with basic agreement about two things: we truly are all in this together, and we all want things back to normal. If we recognize those realities and see each other as real people going through the same struggles, we can get through this as one community, one state, one nation of people who are far more alike than different.

Representative Joe Moody