By now, most Americans know of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci has taken center stage alongside President Trump to educate, give guidance, calm and provide a sense of perspective regarding the public-health implications of COVID-19. We have also heard President Trump state that he wants our nation to rejoice on Easter Sunday. Amen.
Dr. Fauci’s oft-used expression "flattening the curve" has now become part of the daily conversation, along with social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine. History will judge the outcomes of these directives, but for now they dominate our human interaction. However, nothing happens in a vacuum.
There is another Anthony Fauci. His friends call him Tony.
Like Dr. Fauci, Tony came from humble beginnings in Brooklyn. Tony also happens to be Dr. Fauci’s older cousin. (Interestingly, the world knows Dr. Fauci as Dr. FOW-chee; Tony’s friends call him Tony FAW-see.)
Tony chose a different path than Dr. Fauci. When young, Tony enlisted in the United States Army. Upon his honorable discharge he got married, raised a family and decided to do what so many Americans attempt to do in seeking the American Dream; start a business.
Tony took a chance with his sons a little more than 35 years ago, when he opened La Fontana restaurant on Staten Island.
La Fontana and the Fauci family have become part of many peoples’ lives. Like so many other family restaurants, La Fontana is a place of cherished memories and friendships.
In addition to the good food and conversation, Tony and now his son, Joey, have given opportunities to many young kids who started out as busboys then went on to become successful in both the private and public sectors. Tony and Joey instilled in these young people a sense of responsibility, commitment, compassion, hard work and never forgetting where you come from.
Despite many situations over the years — storms, family illnesses and death, blizzards and 9/11 — La Fontana has endured and remained "Open for Business."
The coronavirus and the related government edicts have caused La Fontana and thousands of other businesses to close, indefinitely.
About 12 years ago, we went through a somewhat similar experience with the financial meltdown of 2008. The difference between then and now is that the Great Recession was caused by the recklessness and incredibly poor decisions some businesses and individuals made. As we now know, U.S. taxpayers and quick-acting leaders in the government rallied and came to the rescue.
Today, there exists a different villain.
The U.S. economy was humming along nicely until the COVID-19 landed on our soil. As usual, partisanship, bickering, blaming others started and continues to this moment; something the American people do not want and, certainly, do not deserve. The COVID-19 bomb has exploded and its casualties are mounting.
We are all feeling the impact. Many have suffered severe personal losses and many more of us will. To lessen the impact, we must all heed the warnings and admonitions of Dr. Fauci and those who work with him.
But while we follow the health advice of Dr. Fauci and his colleagues, we must also be mindful of the ramification and implications for the Tony Fauci’s of the world. At this rate, with no end in sight to lockdowns and shutdowns, how will the likes of Tony Fauci, his family and his employees, and millions of others like them survive economically?
Sure, many will come back and others will pursue other work options.
But, what of the innocent business owner and workers that did nothing wrong and want to get back to work and support their families, workers, communities, churches, and synagogues?
There are millions of small business owners who just want to work.
They want to show up at their restaurants, offices, warehouses, construction sites, you name it. Most I know do not want a handout, they just want a chance to succeed.
They want to get America moving again.
Business owners like the Faucis must reopen sooner, rather than later. If they are not allowed to open, then the Federal government needs to prioritize their needs. But that is definitely not a long-term, sustainable solution.
Today, Congress seems to have come together with the Trump administration to help reignite the U.S. economy. The more it focuses on allowing American workers to unleash their animal spirits, the better off we will be.
I believe I speak for many Americans that we appreciate and admire the noble work of Dr. Anthony Fauci. We appreciate his service to our country and helping to provide guidance during this unprecedented time. And, despite the endless brickbats tossed at him, I support President Trump’s desire to solve the most important public health problems, while being mindful of our economic health.
The bottom line is we want Dr. Anthony Fauci to do his job, but we also want Tony Fauci’s family, and the millions like them, to have the opportunity to do theirs — and fast.
Who knows, maybe, just maybe, we can all together for Easter at…La Fontana.
Vito Fossella is the former Republican congressman from Staten Island, New York.
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