By now it is apparent that, barring a miracle, a cure for COVID-19 will not happen soon; however, to make it a condition of removing the economic lockdown would be a catastrophic mistake. They must coexist.
The shocking news that America’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7% as employers cut 20.5 million jobs last month is demoralizing. It is approaching Great Depression numbers.
The bottom line is our country needs people working in safe surroundings. The fact is the COVID-19 pandemic may follow the same course as the Spanish Flu pandemic which flared in 1918 and continued for three more years.
We have no choice but to redesign work, reconfigure workplaces and maintain social distancing. Whether we like it or not, it is the “new reality.”
For example, Shanghai Disneyland re-opened this week with one-third the normal 80,000 daily guests---all of which are screened for fevers, spaced out in lines, and riding one-person per car on rides. The days of waiting in crowded long lines and packed with multiple riders are gone. It is Disney’s future blueprint and hopefully, it will jump-start the reopening all of its parks. (Disney laid off 100,000 workers since the COVID-19 outbreak).
The virus also is changing how people fly and it is likely airlines will reduce the number of passengers per aircraft, require face masks and reconfigure seating. The airlines have been clobbered by COVID-19 and their plight is impacting orders at Boeing, Airbus and aircraft suppliers.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) added: “ADP this week reported that small businesses shed 11 million jobs in April.” According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, 8.2 million leisure and hospitality jobs—about half of the industry—have been eliminated in two months.
Many of those restaurants, hair salons, hotels and non-essential businesses will not survive if the lockdown is prolonged. Many are family owned and most don’t have the financial resources.
Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.