My wife and I live in Gleneden Beach. Since the start of this pandemic we have restricted our movement to a once a week grocery run, 2 necessary doctors appointments and 2 trips to the pharmacy. As this pandemic continues, I have seen more and more out-of-towners in the grocery store and on the road. I do the shopping as it isn’t necessary for both of us to go out.
Last week the grocery store was packed. Whole families shopping together, no masks, no sense of urgency, just lazily wandering around, filling their carts with no concern, picking up items that suggest camping like coolers and small barbecues. One guy was even trying on camouflage jackets as his wife or girlfriend loaded a portable toilet into their cart at Bimart.
Those are not necessary purchases.
As I loaded my groceries- toothpaste, ibuprofen, paper towels, cereal- stuff we actually need, I saw this couple get into a Honda CRV with Washington plates. Really?! That was last week. Today at McKays in Lincoln City I counted three families with kids – kids old enough to stay home or wait in the car. Also a group of 5 college students buying bad beer and snack food. I know they were college kids because one was complaining that camping in the rain would require a lot of booze. They were also wearing OSU sweatshirts. Where are they camping? The campgrounds are closed.
I can understand the single parents needing to bring their kids with them to the store. Or the elderly shopping in pairs. But what I witnessed today was scary. And aggravating. Anyone who has lived on the coast for a while can spot a tourist family. There are way too many in town right now.
My wife and I both work in the restaurant industry and this shutdown has upended our lives. We have had to make some serious decisions about our future. If this virus hadn’t hit we wouldn’t have to make the hard decisions we’re making.
But we can’t be mad at a virus. We’re taking that part in stride. But this influx of people from out of town is something we can justifiably be angry about. Our hospitals can handle a wave of sick locals to a point. But I don’t believe they can handle the needs of the locals and tourists. And if they get hit with a bunch of victims of the virus what are the people with heart problems or broken bones or all the other ordinary things people go to the hospital for. Everyone knows they’re supposed to stay home. Ignorance is no excuse. How do we get people to stay home?
Tourism is a huge part of our economy and in good times we welcome these people with open arms. But these aren’t good times. If our county wants to continue to have some of the lowest infection rates in the country then we need to keep these people out here. I don’t have many answers to this problem. Maybe checking IDs at the door and turning away non-residents. Maybe some of the billboards on westbound highway 18 could post some stern warnings.
I don’t know but I am disheartened by how these tourists are acting. It’s like they don’t care about our well-being. This is a deadly problem. If a tourist brought the virus to the store and a checker was sickened and died wouldn’t that make that tourist a murderer? They know they aren’t supposed to travel. Wouldn’t that be criminally negligent homicide?