Coronavirus shutdown’s crushing effects on thousands of Minnesotans are nothing to sneer at

A story behind the numbers

Last week, I wrote about how “Tens of thousands of Minnesotans are being economically crushed by this shutdown.” Since Gov. Walz issued his stay-at-home order (SHO) on March 16th to combat the Coronavirus, 593,810 Minnesotans have filed for unemployment insurance.

Business owners as well as workers are suffering. Last week, Fox 9 reported on one of them, June Trnka, who has been running Kiddo Klips in Champlin for more than nine years:

“I don’t even know where to start there’s so many wonderful families,” said Trnka. “You see these two-, three-year-old little boys walking in like they own the place and go straight to the train table.”

Business was good and then came the coronavirus.

“At first, I wasn’t too worried about it because it looked like it was just going to be a couple of weeks, then I think it got pushed back a couple of times and each time it was just a little more heart-wrenching,” said Trnka.

Trnka runs the salon by herself. After weeks of bills with no income, she tried to get financial help to keep the business going, but didn’t have any luck. 

“As time went on, it became more apparent to me how serious the situation was,” she said.

She made the decision to close Kiddo Klips and has spent the last few days selling all of her beloved equipment, toys and tools online.

“It’s still not easy, but I’m doing a lot better than when I was trying to process the whole concept of pulling the plug,” she said.

She’s not getting rid of everything – just in case.

“I’m really proud to have done what I’ve done and I’m going to miss a lot of my families but…,” she said as she began to tear up.

While she’s not sure what’s ahead for her, she knows she’s not alone as a small business in this pandemic.

“We’re not all going to survive this…

These people deserve sympathy, not sneers

This is just one story. This weekend Muddy Waters followed Bachelor Farmer, Izzy’s Ice Cream, Egg and I, and Ginger Hop and Honey in closing permanently since the SHO. More will follow, especially as uncertainty mounts. This isn’t about ‘inconvenience’ or ‘Karens’ wanting to get their hair cut. It is about people having their livelihoods wrecked. It is no surprise that there is widespread anguish in the state and that many want to find a way to reconcile getting back to work with remaining vigilant in the fight against Covid-19.

Sadly, rather than empathize with their plight, many choose to sneer at them instead. Take a quick look on Twitter – a sewer at the best of times – or Facebook and you’ll see those who want to get back to work and try to salvage something from this situation dismissed and sneered at as the ‘#freedomtokillyoucrowd‘, to give one particularly crass example, or ‘Nazi Sympathizer Gun Fetishist Miscreants‘. 

The strange thing is that those seeking this reconciliation are fully in tune with Governor Walz’ stated preference. It isn’t those seeking practical solutions who are the extremists here.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.