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Guest opinion: Kepler's Books CEO calls for more statewide COVID-19 restrictions

Cheryl Pan and her daughter, Chloe Leung, pick up a book they ordered from a table outside Kepler's Books in Menlo Park on June 2, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Dear Gov. Newsom,

Thank you for your leadership during the current pandemic in California.

As we enter the sixth month since California's initial shutdown, we have to face the reality that we are running out of time. I believe this is the moment for moonshot thinking. We need to come together like our lives depend on it — because they do.

So I am writing to urge you to do everything possible to further reduce the spread of coronavirus in our great state, including keeping current restrictions in place for as long as needed and implementing further restrictions. This might sound counterintuitive coming from the owner of a small retail business in the Bay Area that's been heavily impacted by the crisis. But, in fact, I believe that the current moment calls for putting our community's well-being ahead of our short-term individual interests. I am convinced that we can handle another lockdown, but we won't survive a prolonged crisis that drags on for months or years.

Our staff and many members of our community feel strongly that we need to do more to contain the spread of coronavirus, and that the leadership of this effort needs to come from the state level. The time has passed for counties to get this job done by making their own decisions at the local level. The infection is too widespread, counties have been struggling to contain it, there is too much mobility, and as a result counties and communities are no longer isolated and siloed. Therefore, we ask that the state of California play a stronger hand and be more direct in mandating what counties and cities should be doing to contain the pandemic.

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We believe we can do better than accepting that we have to continue living with the current levels of infection until a vaccine arrives. We can do much better! And we need you to lead from the state level and help all Californians come together to contain this pandemic to a far greater level.

Governor, you are the leader of the fifth largest economy in the world with an annual economic output greater than France, Canada, or Russia. The Fortune 500 list is studded with companies based in California. Thanks to Silicon Valley, California has become synonymous with innovation and technology. Individuals and companies will rise to the challenge and support you, but you have to clearly state that we are going to do everything it takes to contain this pandemic until it's negligible in scope.

You have the power to close our borders, order curfews, call in the National Guard, borrow large sums of money, build partnerships with companies and other states: There is so much more you can do from the state level. Let's do what needs to be done and put a hard brake to contain this damn virus. We need your resolve, your creative leadership, and strict enforcement.

We know there will be sacrifices involved — there already have been — but the job isn't done yet. We know what we are asking will cause short-term pain, but it's worth it to forestall more long-term damage. We know your job is no easier because you have the power to make big decisions, but we urge you to make this decision because it's in the best interest for the greatest number, including those who are most vulnerable to the ongoing devastation of a prolonged pandemic.

Praveen Madan is CEO of Kepler's Books in Menlo Park. A more detailed version of this letter includes 10 reasons for demanding urgent containment measures and can be found online at tinyurl.com/keplersguestopinion.

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Guest opinion: Kepler's Books CEO calls for more statewide COVID-19 restrictions

by / Contributor

Uploaded: Sat, Aug 22, 2020, 3:08 pm

Dear Gov. Newsom,

Thank you for your leadership during the current pandemic in California.

As we enter the sixth month since California's initial shutdown, we have to face the reality that we are running out of time. I believe this is the moment for moonshot thinking. We need to come together like our lives depend on it — because they do.

So I am writing to urge you to do everything possible to further reduce the spread of coronavirus in our great state, including keeping current restrictions in place for as long as needed and implementing further restrictions. This might sound counterintuitive coming from the owner of a small retail business in the Bay Area that's been heavily impacted by the crisis. But, in fact, I believe that the current moment calls for putting our community's well-being ahead of our short-term individual interests. I am convinced that we can handle another lockdown, but we won't survive a prolonged crisis that drags on for months or years.

Our staff and many members of our community feel strongly that we need to do more to contain the spread of coronavirus, and that the leadership of this effort needs to come from the state level. The time has passed for counties to get this job done by making their own decisions at the local level. The infection is too widespread, counties have been struggling to contain it, there is too much mobility, and as a result counties and communities are no longer isolated and siloed. Therefore, we ask that the state of California play a stronger hand and be more direct in mandating what counties and cities should be doing to contain the pandemic.

We believe we can do better than accepting that we have to continue living with the current levels of infection until a vaccine arrives. We can do much better! And we need you to lead from the state level and help all Californians come together to contain this pandemic to a far greater level.

Governor, you are the leader of the fifth largest economy in the world with an annual economic output greater than France, Canada, or Russia. The Fortune 500 list is studded with companies based in California. Thanks to Silicon Valley, California has become synonymous with innovation and technology. Individuals and companies will rise to the challenge and support you, but you have to clearly state that we are going to do everything it takes to contain this pandemic until it's negligible in scope.

You have the power to close our borders, order curfews, call in the National Guard, borrow large sums of money, build partnerships with companies and other states: There is so much more you can do from the state level. Let's do what needs to be done and put a hard brake to contain this damn virus. We need your resolve, your creative leadership, and strict enforcement.

We know there will be sacrifices involved — there already have been — but the job isn't done yet. We know what we are asking will cause short-term pain, but it's worth it to forestall more long-term damage. We know your job is no easier because you have the power to make big decisions, but we urge you to make this decision because it's in the best interest for the greatest number, including those who are most vulnerable to the ongoing devastation of a prolonged pandemic.

Praveen Madan is CEO of Kepler's Books in Menlo Park. A more detailed version of this letter includes 10 reasons for demanding urgent containment measures and can be found online at tinyurl.com/keplersguestopinion.

Comments

Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 24, 2020 at 9:19 am
Brian, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2020 at 9:19 am

If you want to lock yourself at home, or shut your business down, go right ahead. But calling for the destruction of others livelihoods, their quality of life, for some, their final months of life in the name of…what, exactly? You can't even identify a real issue.

I suppose you're one of those people who foolishly thinks that case numbers on their own mean something (as opposed to hospital capacity or deaths). Regardless of what issue of the day you happen to be in a frenzy about, you have no right to sacrifice MY life for the sake of your beliefs —even if a majority agree with you. That isn't how the American government works. Until you have individualized evidence that I'm a threat to others' life or property, you have no right to interfere in my life. Concerned about how hard it is to get evidence? Ramp up testing. Make isolation easier for those who are immunocompromised. The American answer is not defaulting to dictatorial control because you're generically afraid.

The Almanac should (yet again) be ashamed to publish such fact-free calls for authoritarian control over American lives. It's honestly shocking to read this from someone who's surrounded by books all day. Perhaps consider reading some of the history section.

I will not be shopping at Kepler's in the future.


Howard Crittenden
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:17 pm
Howard Crittenden, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Your plan was floated weeks ago. Maybe we read the same article.
Sadly, your plan will only work in a perfect world. True, if everyone, everyone, locked themselves in an airtight box for 14 days, the virus would disapear. It is not realistic to think that this could happen. Be real. Close the borders? Stop deliveries? Prohibit people to abandoned your trash service? Water and electric utilities? No mail service? I will let you name the other services that are essentail and vital. Oh, close hospitals too.
If one person flies in or out of an airport, it won't work.
Be real.
I do appreciate your letter to our Govenor. It shows how many different opinions on this subject. I bet Gavin will see your letter for what it is. Nieve knowledge of how this world works.


Area Resident
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:38 pm
Area Resident, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:38 pm

Mr. Madan please lead by example and close your Menlo Park and San Francisco stores. Publishing the above provides free advertising for your book selling business. You do not speak from many citizens of the area. You are incorrect in your assessment of the economy. Due to Newsom's mismanagement of the pandemic the unemployment rate is in the mid-teens. Companies are leaving CA (see Schwab to Texas, Tesla new plant in Texas, Lucid Motors new plant in AZ). Google, Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce etc. and shutting down offices and prolonging work from home schedule. WFH means working from homes in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and other cities. There is little reason to stay in the CA when the internet will get you to a meeting. Fewer people in CA means reduced needs for goods and services. Look around, fewer people are here because of this mismanagement . People need to put food on the table for their family. It is very easy to say shut it all down but try that with your stores and not pay yourself. Pay your workers out of your personal saving and not depend on the state. Reality will quickly set in. I for one am not willing to promote the experiment, you say we must do for the survival of the state. California has endured harsher situations without the drastic overload proposals your are suggesting.


pearl
Registered user
another community
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:53 pm
pearl, another community
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2020 at 12:53 pm

QUESTION: Whatever happened to Clark Kepler? Is he no longer involved with the store?


Local shopper
Registered user
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 24, 2020 at 7:42 pm
Local shopper, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2020 at 7:42 pm

I am shocked by Mr. Madan's complete disregard for the livelihoods of others. He states: "We know what we are asking will cause short-term pain, but it's worth it to forestall more long-term damage." Actually, the devasting economic hardships already being felt by the business owners I know are anything but "short term". Businesses have already closed and others are hanging on by a thread. Losing the ability to afford one's business, home, to send one's children to college... those are very real things that will have lifelong and even generational impacts.

Our family has made a concerted effort to support our local businesses by ordering take out and purchasing things locally instead of doing the easy click on Amazon. Our local businesses have been hard hit, but have responded and put in place reasonable safety measures. I applaud them. Like Brian, we cannot in good conscience support a business that has so little disregard for the real people behind other businesses (owners and employees) in our community and, therefore, we will do our book and gift shopping elsewhere.


Long Time Menlo Park Resident in Allied Arts
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 24, 2020 at 11:01 pm
Long Time Menlo Park Resident in Allied Arts, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Aug 24, 2020 at 11:01 pm

Thank you Kepler's Books for your community leadership. You are absolutely spot on - unless we can reduce the COVID, there is no economic recovery for small businesses, nor safe schools for children, nor freedom from fear.

This crisis was caused by COVID spreading in our community. And the crisis will only be solved by decreasing COVID spread.

The reality is that few people are going back to their previous habits - go to a crowded bar, or go to soulcycle in a group of people breathing heavily, or send their kids to school - when we have such a high positivity rate. The majority of people will not take these risks they rightly fear getting sick or getting their family members and friends sick.

A shut-down will be effective. We know that. We did it before. Unfortunately, the State and Counties opened too much, too quickly - opening indoor bars, gyms and theaters. Bars in particular are known places for COVID to spread.

This is not to say that during a harder shutdown, we don't provide businesses and employees with money to stay afloat and weather this. The County and State can and should do more to help unemployed and small businesses pay the bills.

We need to reduce positivity rate below 5% per the WHO's recommendations before re-opening.


JR
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2020 at 9:38 am
JR, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 25, 2020 at 9:38 am

I believe having a stronger option on the table is not illogical. Many would suggest that had the country been faster and stronger early-on, the second wave would not have been as severe. While it is all a question of degree, and we must be respectful of the challenges for small businesses and residents, if the goal is to minimize the risk or cost of a third wave to help support long-term viability, then it is reasonable to at least understand the range of options.


Local shopper
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2020 at 10:53 am
Local shopper, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2020 at 10:53 am

Praveen Madan’s observations are painful but correct. Unless the virus spread is contained, any hoped-for economic recovery will be elusive, prolonging the health and economic costs to consumers and businesses. And until an effective vaccine is available and widely adopted, the most effective weapons we have are behavioral: social distancing, wearing masks in public, and limiting how people congregate. Governor Newson should use the power of his bully pulpit to remind Californians how individual responsibility is critical to this effort.


Stunned
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 28, 2020 at 6:46 pm
Stunned, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Shocking to see how people profess to support small local businesses -- but are quick to turn their backs on Kepler's because they disagree with the CEO's opinion. Judgmental much?

Science supports Madan's position. Whether shutting down is politically feasible at this point is a different story. And tens of thousands more Californians will die or suffer substantial organ damage because of the refusal of so many to accept epidemiological realities.


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