No one wants the Coronavirus to continue to spread rapidly or to infect or kill anyone they love.
No one wants to see the small businesses that make their city “their” city to die or bankrupt their owners and employees.
I imagine almost 100 percent of the population could agree on the previous two statements, no matter if you are young or old, black or white, live in a rural or metro area, consider yourself a Republican or Democrat or stand proudly behind any of the many other lines that have divided and conquered us in the hyper-partisan nation we call home.
So how do we accomplish both goals?
There is only one way — a smart, measured approach. And the plan put out by the White House seems pretty reasonable. But since such an approach will require each “side” of this debate to make concessions, this is absolutely going to devolve into ugly partisan fistfight. And it’s going to be nasty. It already is.
The red and blue armies are already preparing for battle and loading up their snarky ammunition for Twitter.
Apparently, if you are a Democrat you want the government shut down until everyone in the entire country is tested and there is a vaccine, which may mean months, even years. You don’t care if it bankrupts every small business and causes a Great Depression because all of these poor saps will all thank you when they are allowed to still live — I mean they may be poor and homeless, but they will still be alive! Also, because this will help usher the “Orange One” out of office for good, which certainly is the MOST important thing and worth any cost whatsoever.
And if you are a Republican you have no regard for data or the recommendations of the doctors or “experts” and hope people die in record numbers. Well, maybe, you don’t exactly hope for it, but you don’t care as long as it doesn’t affect the bottom line of the company you own, where you, of course, strive to screw over your employees, (you greedy bastard!). You are a just a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, Trump-loving idiot who only cares about your right to get your mullet trimmed or go to Applebees, the other side will joke. (You know because Applebees is where the ‘necks like to go for special occasions. Bless their hearts.)
Of course, most people really don’t feel this way. Most reasonable people understand this crisis is extraordinarily nuanced, and it is going to take an equally nuanced approach to save both lives and livelihoods. Both of which are vitally important. But as always, we are only going to hear from extremist idiots on both sides, as they scream on TV news and rage on social media.
I would be willing to bet the loudest voices haven’t even been personally affected by this for the most part. It’s easy to have an opinion on something when you have no skin (or infected lungs or lost revenue) in the game. People who have been affected don’t have the luxury of fighting Facebook battles or picking a side because they are too busy trying to care for a loved one who is ill or battling their bank for SBA funds. Y’all can enjoy your partisan, academic warfare on Twitter while we are out here in the trenches trying to survive.
The virus didn’t pick sides, but somehow we still have. Even a virus is political these days. How did we get to this point? It’s so ridiculous.
But such is life in these not-so-United States. So we have to tune out the noise and try our best to make it through this.
I would hate to be a politician right now, for it is a no-win situation.
No matter when any governor or mayor opens their state or city back up, some will still die from this. Inevitably, when that happens a TV news reporter will shove a microphone in said politico’s face and scream, “What do you have to say to the family of Mildred Smith, governor, whose family said she died because you opened things back up too soon? Is her blood on your hands, governor?”
And at the same time, the longer businesses sit closed and the federal loan process continues to be dysfunctional, with banks picking winners and losers in the PPP and no clear timeline for EIDL funding from the SBA, people are going to be raging in the streets and calling every elected official they can to tell them about every life that has been financially ruined adn destroyed by this.
But leaders must lead and if there is one thing that is certain in politics and life, you are never going to make everyone happy.
In Alabama, if our numbers continue to decrease as expected there is no reason retail stores should not be able to open back up on May 1. If ladies can try on shoes at Target, they can certainly do it at a locally owned shoe store practicing the same social distancing and capacity guidelines as the “big box” stores.
Retail is the easy one. And it’s a great first step.
I also see no reason why dentists shouldn’t be allowed to open back up, as long as they are using PPE, which they normally do anyway, and testing employees and screening patients. If the hospitals are still not overrun (some local hospitals were never overrun — in fact they told nurses to go home and file unemployment!), elective surgeries should be phased back in.
Restaurants, bars and close contact personal services, like hair, nail and massages, are going to be the most challenging, but since these are the industries most devastated by this, it is so important to at least begin the process of getting them back open, knowing it is going to be a long, painful road ahead. But if they can cut capacity, use PPE, drench everything in disinfectant after each guest or client and/or get creative with plexiglass, healthy solutions are out there.
Even when these businesses get the all clear, it is going to take months and months and months for people to come back in at the pre-virus levels their businesses were used to functioning on. Which is good for keeping the virus at bay from the dreaded “second wave,” but some businesses may not even be able to survive that period of reduced revenue.
I hear a lot of people say, “Oh, y’all are going to be OK.”
We may survive this but we are definitely not going to be OK. None of us are.
There is not enough federal assistance or GoFundMe campaigns or grants in the world to keep every restaurant, hospital, non-profit or other arts, religious or whatever entity in the entire country afloat indefinitely. It’s just not possible. And think about all of the lost sales tax revenue — that is going to be absolutely crippling to a state and city like ours that is so largely dependent on it. So the sooner these folks can get back in their stores and come up with smart and safe solutions to serve their customers, the better chance they have at survival. And the better our overall economy has at survival.
And we still may be doomed.
Before you start screaming, “I can’t believe you are advocating for these openings, you evil, greedy killer, you!,” I do think it is 100 percent crucial for us to keep doing what we have been doing. Social distancing, bathing in hand sanitizer and Clorox, wearing masks, and keeping each other in check.
State and/or city governments would be wise to set up “See Something, Say Something” hotlines so people can report any business that is engaging in reckless activity while we are trying to be safe while also resuscitating this economy. But most business owners don’t want to get sick themselves, and they certainly don’t want their employees to get sick either.
Sure, we need more testing. Data is never a bad thing. But it is going to take a lot of time to test everyone. We can prioritize testing the most at-risk businesses first. But I still think there are smart ways to allow other businesses to safely reopen and operate while we are waiting on those tests to come in, and while we figure out precisely how we are going to utilize those results once we get them.
I have yet to hear anyone articulate an exact plan for this. How often do we get tested? Because aren’t we COVID-free until we are not? Who is administering these tests? Will it just be up to employers or is there another entity who will do this? Who is in charge of the data collection – the states or the feds? Will you get some sort of certificate once you are “clear” and if so, how is that presented or how does it work? It seems like there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
I am not a doctor or an epidemiologist. I really don’t know what to believe about this virus anymore. Some are still preaching on TV that it’s the worst thing they have ever seen, while some Stanford doctors are declaring in the Wall Street Journal that this isn’t going to be anywhere close to as bad as “they” said it was going to be.
But I am a small business owner. And I can tell you with great certainty this is the worst thing I have ever seen. No hurricane or recession or anything has ever done so much damage to so many small businesses in my lifetime, and, in turn, to so many families who depend on them. And that causes a myriad of horrible problems too.
If we don’t get our economy going again soon it’s going to be a catastrophic blow to this city, state and country in more ways than one and in ways we have never seen before. Having to sit home and watch “Tiger King” is not going to be the biggest price we have to pay. This will start affecting everyone, even those in industries who have not been damaged yet. It’s all connected.
Let’s stop making this a partisan issue. We all want this to end with as little damage to our nation’s overall health and economy as possible. I firmly believe we can do both. We just, for once, have to be willing to do it together. That’s the only thing I am scared may not be possible anymore.
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