I hope you’re all well! We’re now two months into the pandemic, or at least nearly two months into our state’s lock-down “shelter at home” orders.
I went shopping yesterday, and things seem a little laxer now than a month ago. There was no line wrapped around the supermarket, and Home Depot’s parking lot was packed. There seemed to be light foot traffic inside the Home Depot, although there didn’t seem to be anyone at the door counting people entering, and there was a long line of customers looking to make returns.
We’re still practicing caution, only venturing out to a store when needed to – about once every two weeks.
Stores now have plastic guards in place to shield cashiers, and there are also other protections and processes in place, and they’re much more streamlined than a month ago when improvisations started.
Our town still has newly reported cases, and it’s unclear why.
Restaurants are still closed.
We’re seeing delays in online orders, especially via USPS.
It appears that a lot of people still don’t understand proper protective practices. What’s the point of someone wearing gloves in a supermarket if that person opens their bag and touches their phone? Face masks lose effectiveness if they’re pulled down below the nose. N95 masks with exhalation vents defeat the purpose of cloth mask mandates and recommendations, where the idea is that everyone is safer if bodily fluids are contained.
One media personality chastised their colleagues, saying that everything is hyped up and that only sick people need to wear masks, citing outdated and replaced guidelines from early March.
The thing about COVID-19 is that a lot of people are asymptomatic, meaning one can have it and not know it, and unknowingly infect others.
There are vulnerable populations, but there have also been a lot of critical cases and deaths involving younger persons and of typically good health.
High-filtration masks are still in short supply, meaning that many individuals cannot protect themselves when venturing out into public. The idea behind cloth mask guidelines is that if everyone contains their fluid droplets, they protect others. And if everyone protects others by donning a cloth mask, the need to protect oneself with high-filtration masks is reduced or perhaps even eliminated, and those masks can go to heath care workers and others at high risk of transmission and infection.
Everyone wearing a mask in a supermarket, where social distancing is often compromised, makes me feel less inclined to venture out in say a P100 paint respirator.
It seems logical to me. I protect you, you protect me, and if there is someone is infected with COVID-19 but asymptomatic, these steps serve to reduce the spread and protect others.
Let’s say that 1 out of 10 people out at a store have COVID-19. 9 people are wearing masks without really having to, but it ensures that the 1 infected person has a reduced chance of transmitting the virus to others unwittingly. The thing is, all 10 of those people might believe themselves to be completely healthy and virus-free.
There are news reports that the virus was widespread in different US states prior to the March pandemic declarations and official tallies. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell until antibody testing is widely available.
After two months, it seems that a lot of people either don’t understand what social distancing means, or they simply don’t care. But, one often encounters selfish and discourteous people when grocery shopping, so why should now be any different.
I went to a doctor’s appointment last week (follow-up to minor in-office surgical procedure on my foot if you must know). Earlier in the month, I was asked a couple of questions before I was permitted to enter the building. This time, there were questions and a non-contact temperature measurement. This is probably going to be the norm for a while.
For the first time in at least 6 weeks, Amazon has added their “Today’s Deals” link back onto their homepage. What does this mean?
A lot of businesses are still open, but with social distancing in place. Still, there are so very many closures, and a lot of people out of work.
For most of these businesses, the closures are considered to be temporary, or short-term. That doesn’t make things any better for people in those circumstances, but there’s a chance for recovery.
However, we’ve been hearing about businesses and factories that won’t be recovering.
Michigan Maple Block has shut down their Petoskey, Michigan factory, ceasing operations. It is estimated that 56 workers will be impacted. Michigan Maple Block manufacturers wood butcher block products and countertops. They said that low profit margins made the company vulnerable to new economic difficulties caused by COVID-19 and the pandemic response.
Bally Block Co, Michigan Maple Block’s sister company, will continue their operations in Pennsylvania, and will continue producing Wood Welded products.
This stood out to me in particular because Michigan Maple Block and Bally Block Co make countertops and cutting boards, but also industrial workbench countertops and similar products.
In other news, and more impactful, it was reported that Alcoa will be shutting down their Ferndale, Washington aluminum smelter, impacting 700 workers as they lose their jobs.
Alcoa is said to be the country’s top producer of aluminum, and that with this closure there are only five smelters remaining in the USA, with all of them losing money and with forecasts of supply being far greater than demand.
At this time there are efforts to avoid the planned closure, but at this time the circumstances don’t sound optimistic.
These are not and will not be the only businesses to succumb to COVID-19-related challenges and economic hardships.
I recently read that it will take a few years for the airline businesses to recover, and a little more beyond that to return to 2019 levels of growth.
Everything is intertwined and related. With fewer domestic travel will come less business for service-related industries.
Less travel could mean fewer commercial ventures or innovations. How many airports will delay planned expansion or renovation projects? How many hotel renovation and construction projects will be impacted?
The current situation sucks, and it is becoming increasingly clear that there will be short and long-term impacts.
Right now, it’s looking like schools will be closed until next fall – at the least. Even if businesses re-open with stringent safety protocols in place, a lot of people won’t be able to work if schools and childcare establishments are not re-opened. How will kids’ lives and developments be altered by this?
This is a very complex situation.
Restaurants – those that haven’t closed temporarily or permanently – are still running delivery orders. Some stores are still open and conducting business but in a modified way.
Everything is a mess, and quite frankly this is one of those times I am really glad I’m not a politician or in any kind of leadership role.
Healthcare workers are under huge stress and strain. While some hot spots seem to be pas their peaks, there are still high numbers of infections, high numbers of individuals require critical and life-saving care, and high numbers of deaths.
About 2-1/2 weeks ago, I drafted a post (but never published it), and quoted some then-accurate figures of more than 1 million cases of confirmed infections in the USA and 3 million worldwide, and more than 56K deaths reported in the USA and 208K deaths worldwide.
As they stand now, there are 1.41M confirmed cases in the USA, and 83,514 deaths related to COVID-19. Worldwide, there are 4.29M confirmed cases and 293K deaths.
I hope that you’re all well. I hope that those in charge can figure out ways to open things up in a safe manner. I hope there are inroads on vaccine development, and that things can return to as close to normal as possible. I think it’s becoming clear that things will be different, and some changes will be irreversible.
These days there are a lot of heated feelings and political criticisms and arguments when it comes to the pandemic response. Please try to keep your comments civil and avoid politics as much as possible.