Only 10 weeks have passed since I wrote my last column in mid-March, but the world has changed so much that it seems a lifetime ago. The phrase “going viral” has gone full-circle and come back to its original and more literal meaning.
Those of us in harder-hit states are experiencing a life-changing event. Just how life-changing is a chapter still being written, but I would like to spend the rest of this column on observations I have made of living and working during this pandemic. I would be grateful to hear your opinions as well.
- As the casualty numbers grow, there is a danger of becoming desensitized to them. We should not let this happen. The pandemic is not over. Given the sheer numbers of infection and death, there is no victory lap to be run here. We cannot mourn every death individually, but we can and should acknowledge the enormity of the loss.
- Pandemics throw new heroes up the charts, including healthcare workers and support staff; first responders; utility workers; emergency military units; grocery and pharmacy staff; supply-chain workers; gas-station employees; communications workers; manufacturers; and so many more, including elected officials. Many thanks to them all!
- For a robust virus that is easily spread by close contact and for which there is no known prophylactic inoculation or treatment, social distancing works. For now, it is the only thing that works. Especially for those in high-risk groups, be wise and stay vigilant for your own health, even as the economy reopens.
- There is only one kind of virus – the apolitical kind. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has become politicized in this country. Everybody loses when politics plays into a virus that doesn’t care whether you hail from a red, blue or purple state or who you may vote for in November.
- The economy needs to reopen, but more judiciously than quickly and at the directions of scientists, not politicians. The grease the economy and businesses need to facilitate their reopening is virus testing and an accurate mapping of this disease. Testing needs to significantly outpace the spread of the disease. If it does not, we will be hurt medically and economically in the long run.
- The COVID-19 infection rate in the U.S. has highlighted shortages of products such as ventilators, personal protective equipment, cotton swabs, test reagents and other goods. This has brought the foreign sourcing of certain strategic and critical goods back onto the political agenda. If this leads to the repatriation of any manufacturing in this country, I am all for it.
- I believe our economy will rebound and survive admirably, but I doubt the economic recovery will snap back rapidly during Q3 and Q4 of this year. The stock market, which was in free-fall two months ago, has recovered nicely. However, the labor force and consumerism that underpin our economy derive primarily from Main Street, not Wall Street. In my opinion, these will only come back gradually.
On behalf of the FORGE staff, I wish you, your families and your associates good health and good fortune during the trying times ahead.