Pittsboro, NC – These are trying times, more trying for some among us than others. Governor Roy Cooper has passed out a three phase plan for reopening our economy. I will not get into that, I will address instead the demand side of a reopen.
I am one of those looking to get started now. I understand that America is a large ship that doesn’t turn on a dime, getting it moving to what we were accustomed to will take months of effort. Even if you opened everything up with no restrictions today, it would still be a slow process.
I think the population is divided into six groups:
1) Healthy and unafraid – these people have been out all along.
2) Casually fearless (no masks) – some out already, many more by the end of May.
3) Worried, but still active (masks and often gloves) – some out now, more by late May or early June.
4) Healthy but still very worried, need to work and pay bills, need haircut really badly – early June to July
5) Vulnerability groups, healthy and asymptomatic – July and August
6) COPD, cancer, acute diabetes, immunodeficiencies, especially elders – probably not until vaccine announced.
It has to be said that the “essential workers” out there holding us all together, especially in the health care community probably are comprised of the first four groups, which is a testament to their courage in what they do.
The point is, if you open up completely, you will still end up with limited business, as the attempt to resume the February customer base is just not going to happen all at once. It makes sense to slow the supply side of the economy to be sure of what we are doing, but those who push for opening sooner rather than later are thinking of the coming growth in demand side- the large numbers of people who are not making money and are getting a big league case of cabin fever.
Groups five and six will remain properly worried about coming out, and the healthy among us that do should continue to look after them and attend to their needs. This is not a small group and must remain a priority and an obligation.
I am an optimist, I think the medical advances coming down the pike will serve to accelerate this process. Remdesivir is the first of many anti-viral mitigations coming out in the next few months. I’m encouraged enough by the progress reports on the vaccine trials to guess that at least one will be approved in a few months. Even if it takes until next year to produce and distribute, that will be a comfort the second wave Influenza victims of 1918 knew nothing of.
Keep supporting any businesses that are open, including the ones tentatively opening their doors next week. Keep focusing on your distancing. Mixing patience with a push to keep things opening as fast as possible are not contradictory efforts. It’s for all of us.