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July 3, 2020 · OPINION

Essential workers often “out of sight, out of mind”

By Michael Focazio
By Mike Focazio
FCWSA Chairman

The essential roles of healthcare professionals and other first responders have been illuminated during this pandemic. And we’ve watched grateful citizens around the world singing on their balconies, banging on drums or just politely saying “Thank you” to these heroes as they risk their own health to protect ours.

We also learn more, as we often do after other disaster responses, about the depths and broad reach of our fellow citizens who work 24/7 out of the public’s eye on our behalf.

In this spirit, I take the opportunity to bring your attention to our fellow citizens who are not often acknowledged as essential workers or first responders. Yet they continue to provide arguably one the most essential roles for the continued health and well-being of many citizens of Fauquier county — the sustained delivery of ample, clean water to homes, offices, businesses and other places of work.

Out of sight, out of mind and with a continued sense of dedication to all customers, the staff of Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority has continued to perform this essential role throughout the pandemic as they do during all types of extreme weather or other events. The many services these heroes are providing include: the constant maintenance and repair of critical (and aging) conveyance, treatment and other infrastructure; constant monitoring for a range of factors such as contamination, and mitigation of threats such as drought or declining water levels.

It is clear that most of us take these services for granted as we turn on our taps and fill our glasses with safe drinking water. It is also clear that without the constant vigilance of the staff at FCWSA, those glasses of water may not be full or safe.

So, please be on the lookout for FCWSA employees on the job. They are on the streets of our service and magisterial districts throughout the county.

Tip your hat, toot you horn, or beat a drum in their honor!

A Hume resident, the writer represents Marshall District on the five-member Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority board, appointed by the county supervisors to oversee the independent agency.
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nonewtaxes · July 12, 2020 at 9:10 am
Are teachers essential? SHould they go back to school and teach?
AngryBob · July 6, 2020 at 3:25 pm
And FCWSA, thanks for keeping the water on.

(How about sewer service to New Baltimore? Catlett is finally getting it after 30 years. 2050 maybe??)
AngryBob · July 6, 2020 at 3:22 pm
Everyone's job is essential. You wouldn't get paid for it otherwise.

@Linda: Good parents and childcare and teachers are the most essential. I agree with you 100% on that one.

Is a barbershop essential? Look at how badly I've butchered my kids' hair and you'd say they are. 😉
Goldwater · July 6, 2020 at 12:39 pm
Karl - I have done plenty of credible research and read extensively on the issue, which helped me come to the conclusion that I did.

Also, you are mixing metaphors. You can't speak if you have a foot in your mouth. At least I think that was the point you were trying to get across, your last sentence was very unclear.
karl engels · July 6, 2020 at 11:58 am
Goldwater, if pablos explanation wasn’t enough for you, I highly suggest finding some credible articles discussing the topic and educate yourself on it since you didn’t want any free help from Pablo. I also think it would do you a lot of good to pull your foot out and listen for once.
Goldwater · July 5, 2020 at 8:37 pm
Pablo - I never asked you to help me to begin with.
PabloCruz · July 5, 2020 at 6:13 pm
Goldwater-your original question was “...why we have to label workers as “essential” and “non-essential“ and what defines each.” I have attempted to explain that to you. If you still don’t understand it, then I can’t help you further.
Linda Ward · July 5, 2020 at 1:59 pm
As I Mom, I can say with definite certainty, when I was sick as Pablo Cruz stated "an essential worker is deemed such because if they did not go to work, potentially very bad things could happen." our world went tilted it's axis at our house.

Ever woke up to a toddler with a dirty diaper sitting on your chest? Or an overflowing dishwasher because someone used liquid dish detergent instead of dishwasher powder?

Everyone understands the societal implications of the lack of responsible parenting/childcare. I vote that good parents and childcare providers are ESSENTIAL.
Goldwater · July 5, 2020 at 1:26 pm
Pablo - You are comparing apples to oranges and you know that. Completely different situations call for different solutions.

Without private sector businesses, allowing people to earn incomes and buy homes, there is not much need for public utilities. It's basic economics.

It's clear that people don't understand the economic implications of the government-mandated shutdown. Just look at your comments, suggesting that hard-working citizens should sit at home and earn no income until the government "allows" them to go back to work.
PabloCruz · July 5, 2020 at 12:51 pm
Goldwater-let me try to make this simpler so you can understand. A tornado goes through Warrenton and wipes out the power grid, and destroys the sewer plant and water plant. There’s no power to the whole town. Now, what do you think should be rebuilt first? Should we bring in Virginia Power to restore the power grid first, or should we bring the barbershop back? If we don’t have public utilities, we can’t have ANY other businesses.
Everyone understands the financial implications of this shutdown.
Goldwater · July 5, 2020 at 8:44 am
Pablo - Again, what definition are you using for "essential worker" and who gets to decide? I doubt that the millions of people who were laid off due to government orders appreciate you calling them "non-essential."

I would argue that their families have gone through very bad things as a result, like not paying rent and not having enough food to eat. Wouldn't you agree that a family not having enough food to eat is a very bad thing?

Yes, I think about firefighters, police, etc. But I also see that there have not been significant spikes of COVID 19 in those professions or with food workers, which shows that, when precautions are taken, people can work.

Saying a barber can stay home for a while and nothing bad will happen shows your ignorance. How about this scenario. A barber has four employees and has to pay $10,000 a month in rent. Now, because you think they should be shut down for 3 months, they have four employees who have no income and still need to provide for their families and the barber has $30,000 in debt.

Here is my question for you. How do firefighters, police, doctors, nurses, electrical lineman get paid? Does it happen in a vacuum or do they get paid via tax dollars and private sector income? And if tax dollars stops coming in and people are not able to earn income to pay for nurses, doctors and such, what will that do the economy long term.

We should have followed the Swedish model, which kept the economy open, took precautions, and does not have a higher level of COVID 19 than anywhere else.

The government picking winners and losers is a bad idea.
PabloCruz · July 5, 2020 at 7:13 am
Goldwater-an essential worker is deemed such because if they did not go to work, potentially very bad things could happen. Think about firefighters, police, doctors, nurses, electrical lineman, etc. These jobs are necessary to maintain our critical infrastructure and keep us safe. If a barber stays home for a while, nothing bad will happen. We don’t define essential/ non-essential in terms of money. It’s not meant to demean how one earns income, it’s just a fact of life.
Goldwater · July 4, 2020 at 4:47 pm
Karl - Is a barber essential or nonessential? According to your own definition, they must be at their place of work "in order for their work to be effective," but the governor shut barbershops down because they were "nonessential." That's just one of a thousand examples.

If you are going to call me a jackass, at least try to have a logical argument, not one that makes you look like a fool.
karl engels · July 4, 2020 at 4:39 pm
You contrarian jackass, essential workers are those who must be at their place of work in order for their work to be effective; nonessential workers are those who can do their jobs from home.
Goldwater · July 4, 2020 at 9:01 am
I would like to ask Mike and many others why we have to label workers "essential" and "nonessential" and what defines each?

For a family of five, the parent who works is essential to bringing in income to provide food, shelter, healthcare, and such. For the government, working taxpayers are essential, because they need tax revenue to operate. And for the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority, customers who can pay their bills - so their workers can be paid - are essential. Without them, the FCWSA would be out of business.

When the government, and individuals like Michael Focazio, start labeling citizens as nonessential, it shows that they have a poor understanding of both human nature (telling people they are nonessential is a horrible thing to do) and how free markets work.
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