As of Friday, April 17th John Hopkins is reporting the following stats for the U.S. in regard to #COVID19 672,00+ cases and 34,600+ deaths. The numbers are staggering and the economic statistics are chilling. Since the President declared a national emergency in mid-March, a still climbing record 22M (THAT’S MILLION!) have filed for unemployment with job losses solely from the virus. Some economic experts believe the unemployment rate may hit 16% by mid-summer which is higher than the unemployment levels during the Great Depression. The stock market and 401K portfolios are reeling. Food supplies are being interrupted (Smithfields shut down, etc.) as people working in those processing plants are being infected with the virus.
Grocery stores are all battling empty shelves and low supplies. Airlines, cruise lines, travel, and hospitality industries are shut down impacting thousands. In NYC alone restaurants are reporting a $2B loss since the virus hit. The economic numbers continue to plunge in not only the U.S. but around the globe. China reports a 6% loss, it’s highest ever. It’s quite depressing and hard to get your mind around the numbers. Those on the front lines in healthcare are being stretched, taxed and exposed like never before. Food pantries in urban areas are being strained at levels eerily similar to the bread lines during the Great Depression.
Politics aside, please! Put on your metrics and analytical hats. Try to view the facts and information dispassionately. Our best epidemiologists, scientists, medical researchers, and doctors are cautioning the need for massive testing before any return to a sense of normalcy. They worry that if we open up the economy with no holds barred we will see cataclysmic infection and death rates. Any plan must take into account the heavy input of science and economics. We all need to admit that we’ve never seen anything like this and we need to remember that our leaders haven’t either! They are in this with us regardless of party, creed, religious affiliations, color, socio-economic levels, education, and ethnicity. This brutal foe knows no boundaries and just wants a body to destroy. COVID19 doesn’t discriminate.
The experts agree that social distancing and stay in place has flattened the curve, but they counsel that we are not out of the woods yet. Our “new normal” may very well be here through 2021 as the expert’s race to produce viable treatments and ultimately a vaccine. But that isn’t to say we can’t open the economy. We need to have a deliberate, cogent plan that takes all sides, issues, numbers and the science into account.
Meanwhile, many of us are still awaiting stimulus checks, others are searching for jobs, we’ve all got cabin fever and desperately want life to return to “NORMAL” whatever that ever was for us. Protestors march and clamor about their rights to be free without restrictions, but what if your right to be free infringes upon the rights of others and infection and death is spread by you, or to you and your family? These are extraordinary times and while the Founders experienced Yellow Fever, Smallpox, and Measles they never envisioned a global pandemic that would wreck the world economy and kill as many people as COVID19. How could they? I’m big on constitutional rights so don’t take this as an anti-freedom rant. However, I am also thinking about my three granddaughters returning to school, super senior adult parents with compromising issues and family working in idled manufacturing plants without the proper protocols in place.
Life will return, but I’m not sure it will ever be what it was before Coronavirus. It has changed all of us, our routines, how we handle hygiene, move about, work and relate to one another. I’m also an optimist and I have always believed the best of America comes out in our worst times whether it’s Apollo 11, JFK’s assassination, the Great Depression, WWII, 911, and diseases, like polio and smallpox we have eradicated or limited through vaccines. Our best minds always come together and find solutions through innovation, ingenuity, and adaptation. They will with this too! It just may not be as fast as we all want it to be.
Life and The Economy During/After COVID19 Post virus life will have a fair number of us a little more nervous than we were before when someone near us sneezes or coughs. Slight fevers will make us wonder, is it, could it be? Touching gas pumps, credit card machines, public door handles, and retail counters may give us pause and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But amid all the bad economic news there are encouraging signs and stories about companies pivoting to respond to the virus and converting their operations to adapt and seek solutions. The story of GE, Ford, and 3M collaborating on PPE solutions and manufacturing much need equipment is what Americans are all about. Toyota Manufacturing in Kentucky is idle, but a small number of workers are producing safety shields where Camry’s and Lexus’ normally come off the line. Most encouraging is the number of small businesses across the country doing similar things to keep their people employed and to help. One couple has come up with a process to sanitize used PPE medical N95 masks for hospitals to reuse. Education and telemedicine fields are exploding. Online education is way up as people have more time to learn. This doesn’t include the explosion in people working from home producing masks, brewers, and distilleries producing hand sanitizer, and the home delivery industry boom.
We need to get the economy going again. We all want it. How we do it is critical and for greater minds than mine. Governors are critical to this process. It’s been so encouraging to hear bout our governors crossing party lines, working together and having daily conference calls to share information, ideas, help one another and seek solutions for our country. Let’s get back to work, but let’s do it with a strategy that puts health, the elderly and the most at-risk first. WE can do this! In the meantime exercise CDC protocols, patience, empathy, and understanding. Shouting never works. We need to listen to one another and when we do we change our world. EVERY leader at every level, involved in the economic return plan is in my thoughts and prayers. I’m cheering them on, are you?
Monty Carter, Story Teller and Brand Strategist for WebSpeak Media