This week the Economic Development Council announced that the San Juan Island’s unemployment rate is 27%, significantly higher than the State (17%) and National (15%) rate. Our local dependence on tourism and lack of diverse industries is a painful reality. Given our extremely limited access to health care (an indicator for reopening areas) and the new COVID case announced this week on San Juan Island, it is unlikely that the Islands will reopen for visitors anytime soon.
Our best chance to move towards normal is to balance public health needs with local investment. We can model best practices that are key to reopening – wear masks, maintain social distancing- while supporting local businesses and organizations. Many businesses (Rays and Island Market included) are providing masks at the door and suggesting shoppers wear them to protect each other.
If you need a mask, contact Mary Gropp by email at email@example.com (she is giving away lovely masks, inviting donations to the Community Emergency Response Fund if you take a mask) or Maggie Kaplan at 376- 5372 (who is also making great masks to benefit the Senior Center) or keep an eye on the Printshop, as they are running a design competition for printed masks.
The Community Emergency Response Fund is also investing in the local economy. This week, in collaboration with the SJI Agricultural Guild, there was a lightning speed grant cycle that resulted in $117,000 distributed to four local farms to immediately increase food production and commit to ongoing donations of produce and products to the Food Bank, the schools and the Senior Center. Such a great investment for all! Thank you to the many donors who made this possible.
I hope you spend some time this weekend outside and love to all your Mom’s, here and beyond. If you are looking for a little gift for the occasion, check out orcasstrong.com, there are some lovely options!