The Grand Re-Opening

Here we are, a few days shy of mid-May.  Most businesses have been closed for about two months, as stay at home orders have directed people to take shelter and refrain from gathering.

Starting this week, many businesses are re-opening, along with restaurants, but with restrictions on the number of patrons and keeping distance between one another.  Views widely different on when and how to re-open.  The arguments have moved from the science of public health to assault rifle carriers crying for freedom and liberty.

Armed protesters have made their presence felt at local and state government buildings, proclaiming the repression of our rights, and assailing elected officials as communists, dictators and many unsavory terms.  Public and personal threats have been made.  In a time when the country needs people to pull together, we are pulling apart.  Public health policy is not made on wingnut cable television and talk radio.  Trust our doctors and medical researchers, and don’t drink bleach.

In my area, cases of infection are still increasing, as there is more testing, but not nearly enough.  As businesses re-open, even with restrictions, we will see whether how much the needle moves on new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Since America essentially shut down back in March, there has been rising illness as well as economic shock waves.  If you looked at your investment statements you are crying rivers of red ink.

Preliminary data for the first quarter of 2020 indicate that U.S. GDP fell by 4.8% at an annual rate, the largest quarterly decline in GDP since the fourth quarter of 2008 during the global financial crisis when the U.S. economy contracted by 8.4%. – Congressional Research Service

The Bureau for Labor Statistics’ April 2020 job report reveals that the unemployment rate is currently 14.7%. The jump from March 2020’s 10.3% rate to April’s rate is the highest unemployment rate month-to-month increase since reporting started in 1948. – Forbes

That 14.7 % equates to about 20 million people.  Unemployment call centers were swamped and mainframe computers could not handle the processing of payments.  States and the federal government were unable to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.

Even with the CARES Act and other stimulus legislation, economic observers project it could take years for the economy to rebound to pre-COVID 19 conditions.  Various sources report that over 100,000 small businesses have closed permanently since March.

As of May 12, there have been 80,820 deaths from the Coronavirus. That number rises each day.

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, warned that “consequences could be really serious” if states move too quickly. – reported in the Washington Post

Just this week, China and South Korea announced an upswing in new cases after returning to more normal conditions, as reported on CNN on May 11. European countries are taking a cautious approach, ready to re-institute safety measures based on the infection needle moving in their countries.

We all want to return to normal, whatever that will look like in the future.  Yes, if we could get in the Wayback Machine and go back to pre-COVID days, or pre-9/11 days, because the world changed so much.

Instead of slowly and carefully, using science to regain our lives and return to a higher level of economic activity, we will defiantly push the suppression of our rights as the means to get haircuts and stand at the bar.  Workers and businesses are hurting beyond the speed by which the federal government can print money, we get that.

This pandemic brought out the usual best in many Americans who made cloth masks because of the shortage of PPE, and who responded to donate money, food and personal care items to a rising number of people in need.

What’s disappointing is how political this pandemic has turned, those who have come out of the woodwork to oppose science and medical fact, in favor of individual rights over the health and safety of the many.  Crisis also brings out the worst of America.

The question is not whether America will re-open.  The question is will we have to re-close soon after the doors are unlocked?

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