I’ve gotten requests for reprints of my April 26th column in the Journal. Here it is:
Here is the full text:
We Are All In This Together
There have been many challenges throughout history posed by disease: the Spanish Flu, AIDS, Swine Flu, Ebola, H1N1 and now COVID 19 – to name a few. In the past the policy response has been to do risk assessment: identify the most vulnerable among us, protect those individuals and to identify the best protocols for treatment for the disease. With COVID 19, for the first time, the policy response has been to effectively lock down the entire economy.
Policy decisions can lead to unforeseen consequences. Some of those consequences have been immediate. Millions of people have been thrown out of work. Some estimates put the current unemployment rate at over 20% and could rise to 50%.
Some of the consequences are long term. Consider this Bloomberg headline: “How Bad Might It Get? Think the Great Depression. The coronavirus collapse has the ingredients to surpass the disaster of the 1930s”. Like then, farmers are being forced to destroy their crops and some have dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of milk. This may lead to severe food shortages in the future. There are few people alive today that will remember the untold suffering and death experienced during that time.
I have had many conversations with local business owners. There are families whose livelihoods depend on their nail salons, barber shops, flower shops, antique stores…so many others. These are people who have dedicated themselves to serving us every day in so many important ways. Their lives are being ruined.
The federal government has left it to the states to direct the policy response to the coronavirus. It is time for us to do some serious risk assessment. We need to start planning a policy response that will safely make West Virginia open for business again.
We are ALL in this together.