This Week's Herman Trend Alert

HR in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 22, 2020

Supporting the Economy for Safe Re-Opening

Other than our media in the US being full of news of rising infections and deaths and hundreds of cars lined up waiting for food bank offerings, looking at the stock market indices, one would not expect that the US economy is in dire straits. However, the stock market is not the economy. Getting control of the COVID-19 pandemic is vital to economic recovery. This Herman Trend Alert talks about our way out.

In Some Areas of the US, the Virus is Surging; Other Places are Okay
In my home state of Texas, on Friday, there had been a new record for virus deaths for four days in a row with more than 10,000 confirmed cases each day. And Texas is not alone in the US; Arizona and Florida are in equally serious situations with shortages of hospital and ICU beds, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), and testing reagents. In only 8 of the United States does the virus appear to be under control, including in New York State where the populace is about to enter Phase 4 of re-opening.

The Virus is Also Surging Elsewhere
Many European countries have brought the virus under control---with the exception of Sweden which chose to mostly ignore the virus and sadly, has experienced the consequences. In Brazil and in Mexico, the novel coronavirus is generating rising numbers of cases and deaths. The Latin American countries are more vulnerable to the pandemic than the wealthier nations. Researchers estimate that due to high levels of poverty and inequality, about 20 percent of populations in Latin America and the Caribbean are particularly susceptible to severe COVID infection, due the fact that most people have at least one of the health conditions that puts them at higher risk. Israel, India, and Russia are also seeing major upticks in their numbers.

Super-Spreader Events Happening by Infection Without Symptoms
As I have discussed in the past, it is a major problem for humanity that people may be infected and have no idea that they are carriers of coronavirus. When these carriers go into crowded environments, especially when they are unmasked. This symptom-less disease is the reason why this infection is so very insidious---and why we have exponentially growing outbreaks in a number of states.

We Must Get this Infection Under Control---Everywhere
Unless and until this pandemic is truly under control, we cannot begin to rebuild the economy. However, controlling this disease will take reducing the number of cases through wearing masks, physically distancing, washing hands, and greater testing (pre-supposing receiving results back in a timely manner) with contact tracing to let people know they have been infected. In the US, many have called for national leadership and appropriate role-modeling. As we go to press, our president has started promoting mask-wearing as being "patriotic" and suggested that we need a national strategy. I hope he follows through on the latter.

Small Businesses are on the Brink
Many small businesses in the US were not able to get the PPP* loans. For others, the amount of money available was simply not enough. Worldwide, small businesses are the jobs' generators of the economy and they are closing in record numbers. Those closings include, but are not limited to, local (non-chain) restaurants, Mom and Pop retail stores, workout gyms, and even some large barber shops and beauty salons. Governments around the world, except in the US, have come the aid of these small employers providing adequate support to the individuals, if not to their businesses. What is needed in the US is another huge infusion of cash into the economy for small companies, their employees, and especially to states and cities that have expended untold millions to respond to this virus with emergency services and healthcare professionals---not to mention the testing and tracing.

More Good News on the Vaccine Front
About a month ago, I wrote a fairly complicated Herman Trend Alert about vaccines. The very good news from Oxford is that its vaccine appears to not only produce antibodies, but also to bolster t-cells which help the body destroy the virus. Now, if that immunity will last for months or years, then we have a viable product.

What's Next?
My best guess is that in the US, it will take a new administration at least 3 months to get control of this rampant infection which may have surged in the winter. Even when we have an available vaccine, sadly, not everybody will choose to take it. We will still need to put in place testing and tracing to handle potential outbreaks. We will also need to support businesses to re-engineer themselves to provide the goods and services demanded in our New Normal. Moreover, the restaurants that do survive will need to be agile enough to flex open and return to pick-up and delivery only. In one form or another, this pandemic will be with us for years. Plus, once it has been conquered, we may have other pandemics with other viruses or bacterial infections to find ways to live with.

Next Week: The Physical and Emotional Sides of Opening-Up
If we are to return to congregate workspaces, what do we need to ensure that employees feel safe and secure?

         *The Paycheck Protection Program was a $669-billion business loan program established by the 2020 US Federal government Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that helped certain businesses, self-employed workers, sole proprietors, certain nonprofit organizations, and tribal businesses continue to operate in the absence of customers.

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