In what seems like the blink of an eye, the world has changed and will remain changed for the foreseeable future. Whole countries of citizens are being told to shelter in place and self-quarantine while a deadly virus sweeps across the globe, wreaking havoc on all aspects of our lives. People all over the United States are getting sick and dying, and the only way to stop it appears to be shutting down society and having everyone stay indoors for weeks at a time.
The coronavirus, specifically the strain COVID-19, has caused the United States and global economies to come to a halt. The country and the world are combating the deadly virus that has thrown a good deal of the population into quarantine for the foreseeable future. The developments and impacts are changing rapidly as the people all over the US come to grips with an uncertain future on all levels of their personal and professional lives. As the nation waits for updates from the scientists and doctors who have been studying how to handle this very situation all of their professional lives, businesses wonder what tomorrow holds.
In this time of uncertainty, there are two things that we know for sure. The first is that with the impact of the global pandemic on the US economy, companies of all sizes and types will be overcome with challenges the business world has never experienced before. The second thing is that this epidemic is temporary. Once the periods of self-isolation and social distancing have eased or been lifted, businesses will return and the economy will bounce back in a big way. Consumers will be itching to get out and spend the money it takes to get back to a normal life.
Some companies, possibly many companies, will not make it and will be forced to close or file for bankruptcy. Businesses that have been nearing sales, retirements, or other transitions have already begun prematurely shutting their doors to cut their losses and move on with their lives.
COVID-19 Pandemic Disrupts Global Supply Chain
The widespread disruption in the flow of the global supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have significant ripple effects on the economy and the way business is conducted for the foreseeable future. Workers around the globe are being advised not to go to work, further decimating the flow of products and services that make up the overall economic makeup of the country and the world.
Implications of COVID-19 in the Workplace
The short-term and long-term implications of the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 remain largely unknown from day to day as news breaks, and efforts continue to react to this global state of emergency. As families and businesses grapple with the consequences of stay-at-home orders and self-quarantine guidelines, the companies that are able to continue doing business have to make significant adjustments in their operations to avoid the spread of the highly infectious deadly virus and control the fatality rate throughout the country.
Employee, Public Safety
Companies throughout the country have been forced to make sweeping changes in their policies quickly in order to keep not only their employees and customers protected, but also the public at large. COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who show no symptoms at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as other infectious disease experts, recommend employees who experience any symptoms to stay home. Businesses are being urged to make policy decisions that will put the safety of the public health above all other considerations, even if that means gutting the business of employees and customers.
Teleworking at Home Offices
From educators to accountants, people burdened with stay-at-home orders have begun getting the job done at home. Teleworking setups have been assembled in home offices and kitchen tables throughout the country. From video conferencing to file sharing, employees, employers, and clients of all kinds are learning how to work efficiently and productively from the comforts of their own homes.
Keeping an eye down the road when you can barely see out the front window is challenging. While the focus so far has justifiably been on short-term viability and survival, long-term effects on workstreams and industry sustainability must also be considered in these critical, gut-wrenching decisions.
Low Wage Workers
Workers in low wage and hourly jobs throughout the country are most at risk during this crisis. Many of them are already in debt and live paycheck to paycheck to pay the bills. These are the most vulnerable in the workforce who were already a couple of missed paychecks away from being in serious financial trouble.
Hardest Hit Industries by Coronavirus Pandemic
The US government continues to implement and adjust guidelines to help the process of flattening the curve. This is to keep the number of those affected at a level that will not overburden healthcare facilities throughout the country. Unemployment numbers are expected to skyrocket to record numbers as residents are ordered to self-quarantine at home and businesses close to help contain community spread of the highly contagious virus.
At this writing, Congress is in the process of passing an expansive, historic stimulus to ease the burden of families and businesses. However, in some cases, the damage has already been done, and, in others, time is of the essence. Gyms, retail and department stores, nail salons, barbershops, and many other businesses have entirely shut down during what is essentially an incubation period to get the spread of COVID-19 under control.
Some of the industries hardest hit during this difficult time include:
The cost of doing business in the manufacturing and construction industries is expected to rise. Millions of Americans work in these vital industries. Companies are hesitant to lay off skilled laborers who are more difficult to replace than unskilled workers, and may ask them to continue to work instead of following preventative measures to be taken as recommended by the CDC, OSHA, and other infectious disease prevention professionals.
Even before the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, online sales had become so popular and accepted that the physical brick-and-mortar store model was struggling to adapt. Many retail and clothing stores were already forced to create an online and eCommerce component, which has prepared many companies for the shift to online ordering and contactless delivery of goods of all kinds. Retail and big box stores employ a huge number of workers who are either out of work or working in risky conditions as the virus sweeps the globe.
With the only options for restaurants now either pick up or delivery, the required changes for restaurant and foodservice industries are hitting their almost 16 million workers hard. The bad news is that the lowest end of their employee base, the hourly employees, are the first to suffer. Experts advise them to be as patient as possible. Once the bans and stay-at-home orders have lifted, consumers are likely to flood back to restaurants, and the industry should recover quickly.
If people are told to stay in their homes for months at a time, they will not be flying or using other modes of transportation. Airlines are losing billions, and projections for the near future are dire. Severe capacity cuts are happening industry-wide in an effort to stop the bleeding. While the government will not allow this most vital industry to fail, people are losing jobs, and investors are predicting plummeting stocks will not recover any time soon.
Consumers are restricted from gathering in large groups, and discretionary income is at a premium for many people who the entertainment and recreation industries count on to survive and prosper. Summer vacation and resort season is in jeopardy across the country, movie and television shows are on hold at all levels of production, and the sports world has completely shut down. Entertainment and recreation businesses may struggle for months or longer.
Is There Any Good News?
As everyone hunkers down in their homes with loved ones and wonders if life will ever return to normal, is there any good news? With humans and Americans specifically, there is always good news to be found.
This Will Not Last Forever
Experts say the coronavirus pandemic may last for a while, but it will not last forever. There will come a day when we can all meet in groups and return to a co-existing society full of ballparks, theaters, and concert halls. It will take sacrifices today to enjoy a healthy and safe tomorrow.
Help On the Way
At this writing, Congress is hammering out a multi-trillion dollar stimulus package designed to help businesses and individuals get through the crisis. It is doubtful this will be the only such stimulus the country will need before it is over.
The country and world have united like never before to collectively do what is necessary to overcome this global emergency and prevent people from getting sick and dying. The key is to be smart and listen to the recommendations of those with the most experience and history dealing with these kinds of outbreaks.