I don’t believe anyone would be surprised to know that there has been an increase in police calls associated with mental health since the Shelter-in-Place orders went into effect. Verbal and even physical disputes between spouses, roommates, and neighbors are on the rise. Likewise, individuals struggling with more significant mental health issues are more prevalent. This includes two individuals who jumped from the Noyo Bridge. Three men were stabbed in the Noyo Harbor and other violent crimes have happened elsewhere in the County.
These examples are the outliers or the extreme specimen of not dealing well with stress. Arguably some of these crimes or incidents would have occurred during normal times. However, most of us see an increasing tension in our communities and across the nation. There is no shortage of things for us to stress about - health, safety, money, job, loved ones, family, kids, state of the nation, the sick, the poor, our neighbors, the economy, the national debt, etc.
As City Manager, the stress and tension I find the hardest to manage are the confrontations happening on whether local and state governments should enforce the shelter in place orders, educate violators or take action against the orders. Not surprisingly, people feel strongly about each of these approaches and everywhere I looked over the weekend I saw conflict over this issue. I realize that by writing about it here and especially if this gets posted on Facebook, I will stir up emotions. This is a hot button.
For the record, the City will continue to abide by the Public Health Officer’s Orders. My oath as a public employee requires that I respect, follow and encourage others to follow the law. When necessary, and where education has failed, the City and the Police Department will enforce the Orders.
Once a week, the City Managers meet by telephone with the County CEO, Carmel Angelo and the Public Health Officer, Dr. Doohan. These calls are short but helpful to understand some of the reasons why the Health Officer made certain decisions. In discussing the move to stage 2.5 of reopening, the conversation centered on trust and responsibility. Neither the County nor the cities can police the details of all the businesses or customers in their jurisdiction. In Fort Bragg, our Police Officers can hardly keep up with regular crime, emergencies and calls for help without trying to determine if someone’s business is following all the protocols set forth at mendocinocountybusiness.org. This site provides businesses with the guidance to reopen and the means to self-certify that their business is complying. The site also lists every business that has successfully completed the self-certification process.
The process is about trust and it is about each of us taking responsibility for our own health and the health of others. Each of us gets to evaluate the risk of our behaviors and decide if going out to eat is worth it or not. If I enter a business that isn’t following the social distancing protocols or practicing good hygiene, I can make a decision to stay or go.
The mask or face covering – I will be the first to admit I don’t like wearing it. I don’t wear it at home or in the car by myself. I do not wear it when I run or exercise, because I can’t breathe. But I stay far away from others and have it with me, if needed. I wear it into stores, I wear it walking around town and when I cannot social distance. I don’t wear it to protect myself but to protect those I might come in contact with. I don’t have any reason to believe I am COVID-19 positive but I would hate to find out I was and had infected someone else.
— Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg City Manager