State governments with stay-at-home orders have made determinations on what constitutes an “essential” service or business. The list includes things like hospitals, banks, grocery stores, restaurants (carryout/delivery/drive-thru) and a number of other business types. I want to point out a few things. 

First, just because these businesses have been deemed “essential,” does not mean that they are thriving. Most are not. In our community along the Wasatch Front, while restaurants can remain open for carryout, many have closed their doors, unable to accommodate a shift in their operating model. 

Second, there is a frustrating misconception that health care practices are either thriving or less impacted by the pandemic than other segments of the economy. This is simply not true. Health care workers on the frontlines working with COVID patients are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk and making less money in exchange for longer (exhausting) working hours. Health care workers taking care of the rest of the population are postponing preventative care or nontime-sensitive treatments and procedures. In other words, they aren’t doing the things they need to do to earn a living. They are doing everything they can to keep their practices afloat in the face of enormous challenge. 

Third, the word “essential” is offensive and inadequate. I will cut a little slack for whoever coined the word’s use. I think what they meant was “essential during a pandemic.” I still dislike it. It demeans what you do, if you are not on the governor’s list. What you do is essential. It is essential for whomever you serve. It is essential for you and your family. What you do is essential for the health of our economy. 

Let’s team up and beat this thing, so that we can all get back to doing our essential work.

Josh Weiner


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