The Cost of Doing Business

Last week, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said, “One day this peak [in early April] will look relatively small compared to the activity we will see coming down the pike. That’s inevitable.”  He was speaking of overall conditions in the country, and was referring to the information in a report that was intended for consumption by the White House only, but somehow made its way into the news.  In that report, an office at FEMA made the projection that COVID-19 deaths will rise to 3,000 a day by June 1st, with all the state re-openings that have happened over the last two weeks.  So, an average of 600 deaths per day per state, but the states with the most relaxed restrictions will certainly fare worse. 

In Ohio, the average cases of the coronavirus over the last three weeks was 650+ per day.  The peak was 1350 in one day.  Now that Governor DeWine has seen fit to cave in to the demands of the President and the GOP, our state will see its share of that rise in cases and deaths predicted by FEMA.  Strip malls are already busier.  Traffic is increasing.  As of yesterday, May 12th, outdoor dining was allowed at restaurants, with indoor dining to be permitted in nine more days.  Supposedly, establishments are to revise seating plans to implement social distancing, and are tasked with thorough and frequent cleaning of public areas.  In practice, it’s fair to assume that many places will not take precautions seriously, just as many stores selling essentials have disregarded safety practices all along. 

At the store where my husband and I buy our groceries, employees either go mask-less, or they wear masks over their mouths only.  When I spoke with the manager, he said that it’s hard to expect his staff to wear masks when some customers don’t, and obviously, they can’t make customers wear masks.  So, apparently, Costco, Menard’s, and Meijer are going to lose significant business because of their mask rules for all customers.  In this same place a few days ago, a teenage cashier gave me a little lecture about how it’s much more dangerous to wear a mask covering the nose than not covering the nose.  I guess surgeons have been wrong all these years. 

A Target store manager in New York state posted an online plea today, directed at all store customers everywhere.  He began by praising the workers in his store, along with workers in every other retail business that has remained open throughout the pandemic.  Then he contrasted the habits of his staff with those of the people who come in the store.  He said that most shoppers don’t wear masks.  They also insist on coming in large family groups who stroll through the store, chatting and ignoring the six-foot distancing rule, acting as if they’re there for family outings rather than making trips to buy essentials.  The manager asked why it’s necessary to bring so many people, when one person could do the shopping and minimize the risk.  He asked customers to be patient, because every check-out area in his store is sanitized after each customer goes through.  He ended by begging shoppers to consider the workers, practice social distancing, and to please wear masks.  Quite a few commenters on this post gave the manager kudos for speaking out and for assuring that strict protocols are maintained in his store.  A few readers, however, attacked Target for various reasons, ignoring the very valid points the manager made.

What we’re seeing, then, is ignorance in some cases, and probably deliberate misinformation in others, emanating from the top ranks of this country, and, like the virus itself, spreading throughout the population.  “Open the state” protesters are actively backed by the Oval Office, even when they carry guns.  If government leaders can ignore science, then it must be all right for selfish citizens to do the same, out of a feeling of entitlement.  It doesn’t matter to the protesters or to the people calling the shots that the majority of the population believes it’s too soon to start gathering at shops and eateries.  It’s likely that such places will end up in much worse financial shape than they already are, because the cautious majority won’t leave their homes.  Owners will be trying to cover expenses while operating at small fractions of their capacities.  Then, when, as Dr. Osterholm predicts, virus infections begin to soar, there will likely be another wave of closings, leading to more financial hardship.

The same top government echelon mentioned above also possesses endless greed, and that, coupled with the fanatical, slavering desire of the resident of the White House to win reelection, will ensure that the consequences of prematurely re-opening states, in direct opposition to the advice of healthcare professionals, will be disastrous.  The cost of doing business is usually calculated in terms of expenses such as rent, payroll, outlay for goods and services, advertising, insurance, and so on.  In 2020, that cost of doing business will be overwhelming for many owners.  The cost in increased deaths and suffering for the people of this country will be much higher.

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