December 8, 2020
Once again, COVID-19 lockdowns are hitting states across the country.
California, Ohio, and New Mexico currently have “stay at home” orders in place. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering a “freeze,” which is just a euphemism for lockdown. New Jersey has placed additional limits on indoor dining.
Public health experts nationwide are scrambling to come up with an effective strategy to stop the surge.
Despite the fact that mask mandates are in place for dozens of states (and have been for months), there’s a seemingly unstoppable wave of COVID-19 cases ahead. All the experts’ messaging about social distancing and handwashing has proven insufficient.
With the virus death toll now in excess of 250,000, state governments are considering increasingly extreme measures to prevent hospitals from going above capacity.
One economically painful mandate that is likely to make a return is the closure of “non-essential” businesses. There are around 30 million small businesses in America, and a huge portion of them will be told they have to close their doors once again.
This could be catastrophic for them, adding to the already vast number of shuttered storefronts.
In New York and New Jersey, as many as a one-third of small businesses have already reportedly closed. Across the country, the picture is similarly grim. The World Economic Forum estimates that around 30% of small businesses in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Boston have all closed. In Honolulu, San Fransisco, and New Orleans, it’s almost 50%.
Keep in mind, those were closures up to present. It’s about to get much worse. Those businesses have been struggling to manage through months of pandemic lockdowns and the enormous drops in their sales. Another three months or even three weeks without revenue and many of them will be done.
For Amazon, Google, and the rest of the Big Tech giants, the year of COVID-19 has been a boom time. But for many mom-and-pop stores on main street, it’s been economic devastation since March.
Many of these businesses have only survived up until now with some degree of government support. The federal Paycheck Protection Program meant that millions of workers were receiving money through August, but that’s been over for months now.
Businesses in major metro areas that have reopened their doors are now facing another round of shutdowns and no federal help forthcoming.
Unfortunately, for a huge number of these small businesses, this time will be the end. I’ve spoken with restaurant owners in New York City, for example, who say it’s just not possible to add another two or three months of expenses with almost no revenue. They plan to close their doors forever if another lockdown is ordered. This will undoubtedly also be true of small retail establishments in New York and across the country.
This time around, there may be more pushback from such businesses against the Draconian order to cease operations. The first time this happened in March, we were all told that it would be “15 days to stop the spread.” That then turned into a month, and depending on the state, then became several months of shutdown orders.
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Businesses have little choice but to fight back and resist. A mandate to close one’s doors in California, Michigan, or New York will be extended for as long as the COVID-19 case load stays high.
Any business with minimal cash on hand that has struggled to make it to this point in 2020 will recognize that an uncertain period of shutdown will likely be the end.
What will cities look like after this pandemic passes? How many businesses will be left? And how sure are the “experts” that we need to do these shutdowns?
These are questions that we as a country urgently need to address. Merely doubling down on failed policies that have not prevented the spread of a virus, and sacrificing the livelihoods and futures of millions of Americans in the process, is not an answer.
Based on what we’ve all witnessed this year, the controversial truth is that there’s no reason to believe these lockdowns will bring down the curve any faster than the six to eight weeks that these spikes tend to last.
We are guaranteed to have a difficult winter of COVID-19 cases… It’s the economic catastrophe accompanying it we may still be able to avoid.
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Executive Editor, American Consequences
With Editorial Staff
December 8, 2020