What Are “Essential” Services?

Pundits have already begun to refer to the era preceding COVID-19 as “BC” or Before-Covid, and “PC” as Post-Covid, but at the moment most of us are focused on life in the midst of C.  Stay-at-home orders enacted in most states, for all but essential services, has left us with the conundrum of what constitutes an “essential” service in society.

Until the pandemic, or BC, prayer services in their traditional edifices were essential to the faithful.  No more.  Risking one’s life or the life of others has tabled everything in religion from communal prayer services, to weddings, to Easter gatherings and Passover sedarim (yes, that’s the plural of Seder).

Yet some services go on with the apparent blessing of Society.   One of the more curious to me is construction.  And I don’t mean urgent infrastructure projects.  I’m referring to home building or remodeling which seems to be done more of convenience than necessity.


Throughout New York and New Jersey, there seem to be exit loopholes through which projects can continue to move forward.  Add to the “essential services” involving the aesthetics of landscaping, which proceeds unabated.  So perhaps the dividing line is between elective projects that are exterior as compared to interior, the thought being that social distancing is easier to maintain during outside ventures.  This actually may be a good idea in that at least it has kept this sector of the economy alive.

Interviewed on the Today Show about reopening the country, Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said: “I don’t think we’re going to go back to how life was in January or February for the next 18 months.” Instead, he says, “we’re going to have to slowly reopen things … and then very carefully see if we have [coronavirus] flare-ups for the foreseeable future until we get an effective treatment or a vaccine.”  Interestingly he cited an optometrist’s office as an example of an environment that might be logical to re-open relatively soon, in contrast with a movie theater which is a more dense environment.

The days ahead are going to focus on how we collectively go about reinstating services that fall under the umbrella of essential services, now that the notion of “usual and customary” is out the window.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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2 Responses to What Are “Essential” Services?

  1. doctuhdon says:

    Essential in medical terminology is often used as a synonym for idiopathic; e.g. , “essential hypertension “. Idiopathic is defined as “arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause “. Maybe this definition is used to define home construction as an “essential service”. 😉

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