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March 13, 2020

The Great Coronavirus Canceling

America faces rolling shutdowns of public areas, which will take an economic toll on families.

Some are calling it a responsible action in light of the threat — postponements, partial shutdowns, and outright cancellations as fear of the coronavirus has spread across the nation. Certainly, what has become known as “social distancing” to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is needed (along with basic hygiene), but when does responsible action become panic-induced overreaction?

What we know of the novel COVID-19 is that it is highly contagious and poses the most serious threat to the elderly and those with chronic health problems. The World Health Organization, which has officially labeled it a pandemic, notes that for at least 80% of those who contract the virus, their symptoms will be “mild” — fever and a cough. The biggest concern is overloading the healthcare system, which means that isolation has become the go-to response.

Cancellation of all public events seemed to really take off with the NBA announcing on Wednesday evening — immediately after President Donald Trump’s speech meant to quell fears — that it was suspending all games indefinitely. The following day, all other major sports leagues followed suit. Simultaneously, the popular March Madness college basketball tournament followed the cancel campaign, which then bled over into classes — colleges and universities all over the nation have suspended classes and are having students take their courses online.

Then Disney announced it is closing its theme parks, all of New York City’s Broadway theaters have canceled shows and shut down, and the Mormon Church has canceled all church gatherings worldwide for at least a month.

With all these cancellations and the rippling impact it’s having on everyone, the greater problem caused by COVID-19 may not be health related but rather economic devastation.

Here is just one example we in our humble shop have experienced thus far. For months we have been planning and preparing to host a booth at the upcoming NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville. That event was canceled on Thursday over coronavirus concerns. That’s certainly a hit to our small business, but others are faring far worse.

Schools have closed their facilities all across the country, instructing students to stay home and take their classes online. What are families with two working parents supposed to do — leave their children home alone? And, like it or not, many kids get one or even two meals a day from their school, adding another hardship for these families.

Or what about all the businesses that depend upon sports leagues and the entertainment industry? How many restaurants and hotels will have to cut staff or reduce hours because there are no games or public entertainment attracting people, or because people are simply self-isolating? And that’s not to mention the bear market, which has cost millions of Americans a significant chunk of their retirement savings. (That’s why the Federal Reserve announced it will pump $1.5 trillion into short-term markets for stabilization.) The economic ripple effect of these mass cancellations after all the recent market volatility is already enormous.

However, much like the 2008 recession, those who will feel the least impact are mainstream-media talkingheads and DC politicians. Worse, they’ll be the ones to tell us what a great job they did when this is all over. In the meantime, hang tight, keep calm, take care of your family and neighbors, and wash your hands.

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