After several weeks of resembling a ghost town, sleepy Galveston Island is stirring to awaken. But is it too soon?
There is great debate among the locals and business and civic leaders, as well as federal and state authorities. After months of social distancing and wearing protective gear (masks), when is it safe to throw caution to the wind and hit the sunny beaches, fine dining establishments, and the many refreshing bars and clubs that dominate Galveston tourism?
The rules and regulations have, at times, been vague and rather poorly shared and enforced. Locals watched the daily news from various areas, including the national news, and it quickly became clear that a clusterf*ck of information was being released, most of which are hollow and useless as the orange moron that was touting them. Even among his staff and chosen members of the “team,” the moneyed folk were in major disagreement with the medical and scientific folks.
Politics as usual? Well, sort of. However, this time such foot-dragging and finger-pointing cost human lives — thousands of them. Quickly it became evident that once again Lord Cheeto is unequipped to handle such an all-encompassing event. In his daily self-honoring and bombastic political rallies that aired in the afternoons, he gave misinformation, falsehoods, “fake news,” and blamed everyone for everything that has ever happened. Of course, Obama was the cause of everything. Between Pat “Aunt PittyPat” Robertson blaming same-sex marriage as the cause of the Covid-19 virus and Mr. T blaming whomever he could, Americans were lost in the confusing shuffle. The few that did stand up, speak the truth, and try to do what was right and moral, were rebuked, removed, and slandered.
So is Galveston open? Are things back to normal? I think it is fair to say we may never again see “normal” as we knew it. There’s been too much change, the kind of change that will have very long-lasting effects. On a national level, the economy is shot, unemployment is higher than ever, businesses have closed, suicide, and drug use rates are through the roof. And politicians, ignoring their constituents, argue and make public spectacles of themselves as they point fingers, quibble, and look for scapegoats. Things are a mess!
The local Galveston businesses that depend on tourist dollars have sat idle, as business owners go broke, unable to re-open. All the while, locals (like everyone else) wait for the words from on high about what to do. Once again, money talks and bullsh*t (even if it is proven scientific fact), walks!
Of course, Galveston’s own Tilman Fertitta (though most are getting tired of claiming him and his arrogant ways), picked to be on the Governor’s “re-opening” the state committee heartily pushed for reopening the businesses and beaches by May 1. Of course, he did; he owns the entire strip along the Seawall and more. Ask his employees how the billionaire has taken care of them during this mess. Slashing and cutting jobs has saved the money man tons of revenue, but brought heartache and misery to once-devoted employees.
Earlier, in an effort to “test the waters” and placate a few money people, the city decided to “partially open the Seawall and beaches for exercise.” Two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. What a joke! Word spread like a brushfire in August, and in no time, traffic was backed-up along the Seawall and Broadway. The beaches were full of people, crowds not adhering to the social distancing guidelines, and motorcycle-riding groups taking over the lanes. Litter was strewn from one end of the Seawall to the other, on both sides and on the beaches. Everybody came to Galveston, had their fun, brought their unbridled germs, and left their litter, everywhere. Good ol’ Galveston, trashcan for all the neighboring communities.
Soon, on Friday, May 1, things began to re-open in Galveston. Forget all the harsh warning weeks ago about staying in, wearing masks, bending the curve…it’s party time! Statistics and data have not changed; we are not out of the woods. Hell, we are not even in a clearing in the woods.
The entire coronavirus saga has been poorly managed and gravely misled, at all levels, local, state, and federal. The mantra among Galvestonians when asked about opening things: “Let ’em come. I’m staying at home. It’s too soon.”
It’s all about money and nothing else! It will be impossible to oversee every restaurant, club, theater, and store to ensure the required 25 percent-capacity limits. In a week or so, it will be back to business as usual for those businesses that survived and were able to reopen.
Sadly, science says there could be a huge second wave of viral infections, spread by those failing to heed warnings and rush back to the old norms. It happened before and will happen again.
Come to Galveston? Of course, it can be a great place and loads of fun. But before you load the kids and family in the van and head down I-45, think about the possible consequences — a terrible price for a few hours of “getting back to normal.”
Masks are important. Wear them. Practice social distancing. And, by all means, pick up your trash. Galveston does not want it or need it.