Archive for the ‘Crisis’ Category

Service of Collateral Damage: Who Picks Up the Pieces?

Monday, May 11th, 2020

We are all collateral damage to this virus, some more than others.

For starters restaurants, airlines, retail and small businesses of all kinds, museums, theaters, consequent furloughed/fired employees and retired citizens living on savings all suffer. In addition to and as a result the country’s mental health has taken a terrible blow. Heading the list: substance abuse; domestic violence, alcoholism and suicide. The headline from a Well Being Trust & The Robert Graham Center Analysis: “The COVID Pandemic Could Lead to 75,000 Additional Deaths from Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide.” People are understandably desperate.

Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam at The Washington Post reported last Friday that April job loss at 20.5 million with unemployment rate at 14.7 percent is “the worst since the Depression era.”

Policymakers have to make Russian Roulette-like decisions, the most difficult of their careers: Life loss over jobs? Jobs over potential sickness and death? The data on which to make decisions and forecasts of where this unpredictable tornado-like virus will go is mercurial: Every week we learn of new twists and turns as experts struggle to recognize symptoms and cobble together remedies. And too many interpretations appear to be political which doesn’t feel right in a crisis.

Between the squabbling and posturing I’m not sure who is leading the charge which is troubling. The president tossed the ball to the governors. CDC standards to determine when it’s wise to reopen businesses are followed by some but not all governors and nothing is done to enforce them.

Some governors on the east coast are coordinating the acquisition of personal protective equipment so they don’t compete and achieve the best prices but that seems to be it. They are not in sync when it comes to opening beaches, businesses and restaurants which Governor Cuomo has previously said is essential due to their proximity and the fluidity of citizens armed with cars.

  • Connecticut expects its restaurants to welcome patrons–with restrictions–on May 20. Whether town beaches are open depends on each mayor according to ctpost.com. For example Greenwich beaches are open to residents and Norwalk’s on a “case-by-case basis.”
  • New Jersey’s sun lovers will visit its beaches Memorial weekend.
  • NY State parks and beaches are closed at least until May 31 according to a NYS parks website. In order for a region to open under Pause New York, which expires May 15, it must meet CDC criteria: “a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and deaths on a 3-day rolling average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average. A region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.” The NY State website spells out the priorities regarding business openings. In Phase I: construction, manufacturing & wholesale supply chain, select retail using curbside pickup only, agriculture, fishing. Only in Phase III do we see restaurants and food service that many other states have long opened. A crucial component: A region must keep an eye on data and be able to pull back and shut down again if the numbers of Covid-19 cases increase.

Do you feel secure that your state is interpreting the criteria for raising the gates to reestablish the economy while protecting workers, citizens–and you?  With the exception of NY Governor Cuomo, who has said time and again “hold me accountable; blame me,” the handling of this pandemic is like watching a child’s game of hot potato where some leaders don’t want to be holding the spud when the music stops. Who has a handle on the true full picture? How will the federal purse control/disperse life and worker-saving funds when regional criteria differ so drastically? Will exacerbated mental health issues be given their proper due by government and insurance companies?  And most important, who will ultimately determine which comes first–the economy or risk of death?

 

Cats sheltering in place in a neighborhood pizza parlor, hungry for company.

 

Service of Sensible Measures: How to React to a Crisis

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

Grand Central Terminal that’s losing its reputation as a crowded place.

Coronavirus has increasing nasty, damaging ramifications: Its super-contagious nature; the threat of quarantining people for 14 days if exposed or sick; the potential long-lasting crushing economic consequences; the seminal changes to education as more and more colleges are closing dorms for weeks after spring break and moving students online for instruction if they haven’t already done so and for the near future sports, entertainment and expos–to the trade or consumers–won’t be the same. What about young children and their working parents should the kids be forced to stay home? Will imports/exports be stopped? One of the worst aspects: the fuzzy, ad hoc nature of the strategy to contain the virus.

Photo: phase.com

Will we remain helpless, grasping at straws, improvising in a scattershot way for the year we must wait for a vaccine? Can someone please facilitate production and delivery of test kits for the virus, hand sanitizer and face masks? Manhattan is also bereft of the latter two.

Any good ideas, Mr. President and team?

In my apartment building tenants must pick up takeout food in the lobby as delivery people are not allowed upstairs. A week ago the manager installed a hand sanitizer dispenser in the vestibule by the elevators.

You’ve heard the expression “As busy as Grand Central Station?” If this keeps up, it will be meaningless. Please see the photo I took yesterday at the top of the post.  And doors to the terminal and the Rite Aid drugstore inside are left open [photos below left and right] so people don’t have another handle on which to spread or from which to catch germs. The doors normally are not left open but nothing’s normal.

Doors to Grand Central not usually left open

Some friends called off vacations, [while one left for India as scheduled and I wonder what her return in a few days will be like], and others, planning to cover industry events, aren’t going because their meetings or trade shows have been deep-sixed or their employers withdrew their OK for travel/attendance. Venues such as hospital and church community rooms have pulled the plug on professional or educational gatherings for now yet a trade show in Manhattan next week so far is expected to go forward. A friend who pooh-poohs 99 percent of every danger said he was working at home for the next few days to avoid the train commute.

And for me? I’ve always used my knuckle to select my floor in an elevator but I’ve never before washed my hands as much. I bought a large container of peanut butter should I be quarantined or ill so I don’t have to bother anyone if I run out of other food. [Truth: I’ll probably finish the jar long before the crisis is over.] I picked up an extra bottle of prescription meds in the event there’s a delivery glitch in the near future and the last 2 bottles of CVS-brand hand sanitizer. I gave one away. I’m not doing laundry in the communal laundry room at my apartment and I’m hand-washing as much as I can.

I wasn’t soothed by the NY Metropolitan Transit Authorities’ warning–without proposing viable alternatives–that citizens avoid taking crowded subway or buses. Jeanne to the MTA: This is NYC. Everything’s crowded pretty much. I worry that the system will be shut down.

Photo: forward.com

I’m tempted by the $50 Broadway theater tickets to fill otherwise sold-out shows left with last minute seats because of significant cancellations by ticket holders–but hesitate to take advantage of the bargain and think all the shows may eventually be closed. Tickets are supposed to go on sale today at noon. According to amny.com, “Tickets for “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “West Side Story” are available through telecharge.com. “The Lehman Trilogy” and “The Book of Mormon” are available through ticketmaster.com.

I don’t have the stomach to calculate my financial losses spinning out of control.

Have you altered your life or plans in recognition of the virus or been forced to? Are you concerned about the financial ramifications or do you figure everything will return to “normal” shortly? Have you experienced anything like this—a triple-whammy of health, lifestyle and financial menace all at once? War perhaps? Do you feel that someone responsible has her/his arms around this? What will you do with your time if restricted to your home for 14 days? Am I overstating the situation?

Photo: advancestanchions.com

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