Pepperberries window message (copy)

A message displayed on the window of Pepperberries gift shop on East Davis Street in Culpeper expresses hope and community support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Few crises have affected Culpeper so directly as this pandemic. As of Thursday morning, there were 129 cases of COVID-19 in the county, 11 people were hospitalized, and 3 have passed away.

By way of comparison, Culpeper lost 17 killed or died of wounds in the Army in all of World War Two.

We have not yet reached the peak of the disease in Virginia—the worst is still ahead of us, though actions taken by the government of the Commonwealth have so far prevented the afflicted from overwhelming our medical facilities. We fortunately have a doctor as governor. He respects science and understands medical issues. He understands that bleach is for laundry.

Even as millennials and working families have worked long and hard to recover from the last recession, the developing coronavirus recession will very likely walk back those gains. Small businesses and those they employ are particularly vulnerable. For some time now, severe economic inequality has left many families wondering if the federal government is serving their interests.

The Republican tax cut of 2017 gave big businesses and the wealthy 1 percent enormous amounts of taxpayer money. That lost revenue was no longer available to help small businesses, restore federal emergency stockpiles, repair our transportation infrastructure, or improve schools. That lost revenue increased the debt by $1 trillion.

Coronavirus legislation added almost another $2 trillion to the debt. Only in the latest adjustment program did the House insert provisions which do something for working people.

While big businesses quickly received major government subsidies, the Payroll Protection Program was out of money in two weeks, before many small businesses could benefit. The glitches in providing $1,200 for working families have also been frustrating. The President’s insistence that there be no oversight for the money distributed violates any measure of good sense.

We now know that Donald Trump began ignoring daily intelligence briefing warnings about the developing pandemic as early as last November. The administration failed to develop a national strategy and began picking fights with the states over medical supplies. States were forced to compete with each other over supplies and began procuring them from overseas, only to have them confiscated by federal agents.

We are fortunate that our congresswoman, Abigail Spanberger, has a keen sense of responsibility toward her constituents. She has been working tirelessly for us throughout this crisis.

She has responded to constituents’ questions about the botched opening of the Paycheck Protection Program, which was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), through virtual town halls, newsletters, and social media.

For many small businesses, Treasury’s rules for the Paycheck Protection Program’s (PPP) loan forgiveness were burdensome. Spanberger took the lead last week in calling for rescinding these requirements. She continues to have conversations with local business owners about their problems with the PPP, and her recent actions speak to her willingness to actually address their concerns and fight for their best interests.

Someone chalked a heart and the message, “Culpeper Strong” on a retaining wall in town. Culpeper residents should be proud of the solidarity and empathy we have shown, individually and collectively, for our community.

There are many to thank: our doctors, nurses, first responders, public health professionals; our local restaurants and businesses offering curbside services; our Old House and Belmont distilleries for producing hand sanitizers; our local farmers for continuing to feed us.

Thanks also to those who wash their hands, keep social distance, and wear their masks around others.

In that spirit, this Tuesday, May 5th, is “Give Local Piedmont”—a call to support the nonprofit organizations that make our region stronger.

This year, it is even more important than ever to step forward. You can make your donations here: Please be generous.

David Reuther, a retired

U.S. Foreign Service officer, is past chair of the Culpeper Democratic Committee. These are his personal observations.

(1) comment

Michael McLamara

"We now know that Donald Trump began ignoring daily intelligence briefing warnings about the developing pandemic as early as last November. The administration failed to develop a national strategy"

I know what you mean. Schiff, Pelosi, Schumer and Nadler joined Trump in some sort of political muck up that kept congress and the white house clogged up for several months at the expense of our nation. What a bunch of self centered politicals.

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