COVID-19 is the defining feature of 2020, wreaking havoc on communities, devastating businesses, and claiming a reported 1.8 million lives worldwide—340,000 from the US alone. As the pandemic continues to drag on, many well-loved establishments have permanently closed shop. In contrast, Rudford’s Resaturant Diner in North Park has remanded steadfastly open—often in spite of direct orders to the contrary. Its current proprietors, Jeff Kacha and his son Nick, are constantly featured in local news as the face of defiant businesses. Flagrantly violating public health orders, the Kachas seem determined to eke out a few more dollars at the expense of their community’s well-being.
In his latest disappointing interview, Nick Kacha asked public health officials to be more “optimistic about the situation and a little less grim.” Like other uninformed opinion-havers, he blames testing for the massive increase in cases that mysteriously coincide with traditional American holiday gatherings. News organizations like KUSI take a tendentious tone in their reporting, emphasizing that those serving in public health roles are not politically chosen—as though preserving a common good like public health is ideological.
Resistance to doing anything helpful when it mattered most is why we’re here now, a year later, with more cases than ever. Other countries demonstrate what swift action might have accomplished in America. Instead, we seem to have given up: Social media is full of happy holiday photos of large, maskless groups. It should not be surprising, then, that when I look at Southern California’s dwindling ICU capacity, I feel pretty grim.
Instead of blaming governors or officials for lockdowns, we should question the assinine idea that property owners can extract rents when closed businesses have few other operating costs. Additionally, businesses and individuals like Rudford’s and the Kachas should examine their own unashamedly irresponsible decisions. Their voices are representative of a population that insists on amplifying the impact of this virus by fighting public health strategies every step of the way.