The Business of getting back to Business.
Updated: May 21, 2020
"It always amuses me that it literally takes death, or the very real threat of it to shake us out of what has become a normal apathy". - James Hartfield
As I'm writing this, I've just finished reading an article stating that 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment. To put that into perspective, that's almost 16.4%. That's higher than at any point in U.S. history. My question today is a simple one. Why? What is actually going on right now? What is preventing all of us from going back to work tomorrow?
Reports have come out that hospitals are actually counting non Coronavirus deaths as Coronavirus deaths. So... what are the real numbers? This is a little difficult to decipher since we are still bringing down the curve. However, the number of people who have recovered from this completely dwarfs the amount who have died from it. That is an undeniable and absolute fact.
The way the U.S. government and leaders in power have handled this situation from the beginning has made me incredibly uncomfortable. Admittedly there were a lot of systems in place that were unreliable. Also, misinformation was rampant for the first two months going back to mid January. Taking that into account though, everything that followed since then, at the very best, has been catastrophically laughable. Before we go any deeper this is not a smear campaign on either political party. So if you're looking forward to a Trump bashing or how the Democrats are better because of whatever, let me assure you that's not where I'm headed. Let's just agree that some very prominent leaders in very high places across multiple departments, did not do some key things that needed to be done in a timely manner. And because of that, I have now become an expert on referring people to Netflix shows based on their Facebook status updates. For the record, I'm 5 for 5.
(Photo courtesy of FieldTurf.com)
To answer my own question, the first reason we're all not back at work is a simple one. We are not comfortable. Watch any news station for a week straight and you'll likely never leave your house again. So if our media doesn't focus more on the recovery numbers and preventative measures versus mass panic about hospitals not having enough equipment or room to treat patients; even if you greenlit a normal reopening, who's brave enough to go back outside? Secondly, we don't think we're prepared for the number of deaths that "COULD" (not will) happen. Now this is where if I had a lit cigar and outdoor patio deck, I'd recline in my favorite chair, turn to the camera and say, "this is where things get interesting"
Without the Coronavirus present, the count for average deaths per day in the U.S. (including all diseases, viruses, natural and unnatural deaths) hovers somewhere close to 7,400.
To put that into perspective, so far, (and again remember these numbers aren't really reliable because hospitals aren't counting deaths properly) close to 50,000 people have died in America due to the virus. So let's rewind and start the death clock from Jan 1st 2020, to right now without the Coronavirus in play. Do the math and we get approximately 880,000 people that have already passed this year. For a physical representation of what that looks like, Michigan's College Football stadium has a capacity of 109, 901. You would have to fill and kill that entire stadium 8 times to get to where we are right now. Now admittedly I'm throwing around some big numbers here. So let's end this math tutorial as simple as possible. Under normal circumstances, it would take America 7 days to hit the 50K death mark. Since we've actually been tracking this virus here in the states, (which let's say for the sake of argument) wasn't until the beginning of March, it has taken almost 60 days to arrive at that number.
When the initial reports from a scientific data probe came out of England in February, the "death guess" was 2.2 million. This is what would have happened if we did absolutely nothing. Now while I'm not going to ask you to further calculate anything, a quick glance at the previous paragraph will let you know we're not even going to come close to that.
Now for a fun background story on me. I had trouble passing Algebra 2 in High School. "I had trouble", is code for my brain literally refused to comprehend it. Escaping summer school with a very low D, what I do remember about that class is that I had a job at Target. Well, that and the combination of Barq's Root beer and Hostess mini muffins made the days where I was stuck inside trying to learn something I have literally NEVER used, somewhat bearable. So armed with that knowledge, you can easily summarize that I am in no way shape or form a mathematic or economical genius of any kind. Also, despite my best efforts, at the age of 39 I've never made more than 26K a year in my entire life. So maybe the following information holds no real weight coming from me. However, when combining both the stimulus and relief package that are currently circulating its way through the American people and various facets of the economy, the following number actually exists. $2,484,000,000,000.
Is this going to go where it needs to? Of course not, but let's pretend it is.
I'm not up to speed on what red tape or legal ramifications are involved with guiding a nation through a viral pandemic. But with my vast and infinite wisdom, I can tell you one thing. The number $2,484,000,000,000 is a large one. It's so large I'm not even going to try and pronounce it.
For kicks and giggles, let's just say a facemask cost $18. Let's also say that there are a little over 330,000,000 people that both live and work in the U.S. See where I'm headed with this? Despite even our most foolish members of society throwing Coronavirus parties, we have failed to get anywhere close to the death toll that was originally predicted for this pandemic. While I'm sure we can attribute a certain amount of that to self quarantining and stricter social distancing, let's get serious.
We don't need a relief or stimulus package. We need the ability as a nation to safely go back to full press work. So if you can honestly tell me that $2,484,000,000,000 can't accomplish that task, I can tell you something else. You're a Liar.
Knowing what we now do about the recovery numbers, waiting for a miracle vaccine, or death numbers that we're all comfortable with, is a foolish plan. I'm not saying it's time to be careless, but right now as a nation we are juggling 3 balls, and starting next month we need to put 2 of them down. The ramifications of letting this drag on longer than it actually needs to will not make you feel any safer. The real question then becomes how generous are we as a nation? Can we all come together and everybody who has money will pay for everyone else who cannot work until this passes?
It's one thing to fight an invisible enemy, it's another thing to become your own worst enemy.
Honestly, there's a part of me that appreciates what's been going on for the last two months. Take away the irrational fear and anxiety, strip away all your streaming services, and genuinely spend some time alone with yourself. What should come out of that is an overall feeling or question of what is actually important in your life. This not something we always get to do in a society as busy as ours has become. In fact, I believe it's become a lost art.
But a large percentage of us have now been on pause for almost two months. A pause, or "reset button' if you want to call it that, is simply that. It's a button we push. And unlike an old 80's computer, it shouldn't need to take 3 months to warm itself back up.
Has the Coronavirus made me go stir crazy? Am I just really eager to get back to work and willing to throw caution to the wind and say screw everyone else, if you die you die? No. What I am saying is that collectively we need to push the button. Because if we actually cared about people dying as much as were pretending to do during this sexy new virus, the world wouldn't look the way it does.
Dear America, it's been fun, and I hope we have all learned a valuable lesson from this. Were you not spending enough time with your kids? Did you finally get to start working on the book you said you would write? Did you sit down and come to the realization that he's actually wasting your time and this relationship is not going anywhere? Whatever it was, however, you see the Coronavirus, it was in fact actually a gift of time that many of us didn't have before.
All that having been said, let's take what we've learned during this time and move forward. Business can be many things, but to be effective, the one thing it can't be is inactive.