Will It Be Liar One Or Liar Two For Prez

Back to politics. Over the years, I have agreed with Charles Blow, New York Times op-ed columnist, less than a handful of times on any subject he has addressed. He is known to be one of the most radical-leaning journalists in the country. Remarkably, I must endorse Blow’s commentary in a piece that flays both men who are vying for the presidency.

In an article, titled  “Biden Can Beat Trump, If He Doesn’t Blow It” (no pun intended), Blow says “Joe Biden needs to do little, to win the election. He doesn’t need a daily persona in the news … He doesn’t need large rallies or even that much sizzle.”

“In fact, his being stuck in his home and giving limited interviews … [is] [m]aybe the best thing to ever happen to his campaign.”

Blow goes on to say that “Biden is a well-known gaff machine (a gaff machine in the White House?). Every time he speaks there is a real chance he will do more bad than good.”

And just like Trump, Blow says Biden is a liar. He lied about the NAACP endorsing him (the organization endorses no candidates). He lied about marching in the civil rights movement. And, Biden said he was arrested in South Africa trying to meet with Nelson Mandela (untrue).

Our nation is at a seminal moment. We have a choice between a pathological liar, who is also a megalomaniac and a self-aggrandizing loudmouth, and, a bumbling simpleton, who is also a liar with a pathetic resume even after decades of public service. On what basis will voters decide who should be the most powerful man on Earth? Should it be the guy who lies the least?

The winner gets to finish the war against the coronavirus, negotiate with a surging and dangerous China and control the nutcase in North Korea, who wants to build more nukes. Additionally, whomever wins will be at the mercy of a hostile House of Representatives led by arguably the worst Speaker in modern history, and a southern conservative who has a death grip on the Senate.

After we are finished fighting against the virus that is threatening mankind, Americans can look forward to a president who is going to threaten mankind politically no matter who wins in November.

Is It The Right Time To Go Home?

Thousands of people fled the coronavirus epidemic when it first began. From New York City, they relocated to a number of places identified in a cover story last week in the New York Times. Many packed up their families and moved out to second homes or rentals in the Hamptons, Westchester, Los Angeles and Miami. All sought safer places to ride out the pandemic storm.

During the past few months, these people have isolated, done business remotely, Face Timed friends and relatives, snuck out to the store for food with masks and sterile gloves and generally tried to stay active by exercising, reading books, playing games and drinking margaritas.

The moment of truth is now upon us. Many are probably in dire need of a change in venue, a return to normalcy. The kids want to see their friends, and the adults want to get back to their offices. How does one assess the risks of re-inhabiting a city that arguably is the most dangerous place in the world?

The first thing one might do is find out how strict the prevailing rules are at your intended destination. Is your gym open? Are household staffs allowed to enter the building? Can workers go to their offices? Can the kids visit their friends? Are your favorite restaurants open? Is it safe to visit your elderly mother and father?

The answers to these questions are a resounding “who knows?” Donald Trump and Andrew Cuomo are saying everybody is “pretty safe.” You “probably” won’t get infected if you wear a mask, wash your hands, stay out of crowded places and isolate yourself. Why the hell is anybody contemplating a move back to the home front, if it isn’t definitively safe?

Some experts are predicting that by September the pandemic will be over, as if they really know. That may be true unless we do enough stupid things to endanger ourselves, relatives and friends. If the virus gets reinvigorated, are we all prepared to go back into deep isolation?

A related issue is the decision that CEOs must make. Trump and Cuomo are also saying business leaders should “bring back the workers; it’s safe.” Maybe workers are still frightened about returning to a great big office complex where a bug can attack scores of people and make them deathly ill. And, what if remote business techniques have been successful and even profitable? Maybe CEOs should think about continuing to allow employees to work from home a little bit longer.

If I were a CEO, I would be very careful about bringing subordinates back too soon. Unless the business is such that profits will suffer if workers don’t work at the office, or if morale is being impaired by work at home rules, why risk it? Why not let the most daring CEOs play Russian roulette with the health of their employees, and see how it works out? Do you really want to be the first to bring everybody back, and the first to have a recurrence of the virus? There is little upside to moving quickly.

If a company acts quickly and experiences a recurrence, the public and employee relations issues will be catastrophic.

We Need A Vaccine Now

Each time I think about returning to normalcy, I experience a wave of nausea. Every activity that is currently banned or limited by the authorities is fraught with danger- a possibility of being infected with the coronavirus.

I made a list of daily activities we do in in this country. Is it reasonable that my family and I will partake in them in the near future? Before the development of a vaccine? If our leaders say we should act normally, can I, in good conscience, endorse these activities for my loved ones with so many unanswered questions and concerns?

Returning to work. Currently, the world is working from home, for the most part. Although commerce has decreased by a staggering amount, many are doing business work online. It’s safe and it’s easy, but will this method of doing business be apropos for most industries in the coming months? Will workers balk at directives to return to the office, if they know they will face crowded elevators, wide open floors and certain danger if they commute by public transportation or taxis? Will CEO’s will insist that business is better if done face to face with clients?

Returning to school. There’s no way parents are going to allow their kids to reenter schools, if there is a scintilla of risk associated with doing so. Our most precious assets are our youth. They should not be jeopardized under any circumstances. Nevertheless, principals are trying to figure out how to keep children away from each other while in the classroom. It seems like a very difficult situation to solve, if in fact distancing is still recommended.

Restaurants. Restaurants are one of the mainstays of most big cities. It would be difficult to estimate the significant impact they have on employment, commerce and quality of life. Restaurants are used to do business, fraternize with family and friends and substitute for home cooking. If distancing continues to be mandated, at a minimum, restaurants will have far fewer people at their establishment, if any at all. Moreover, many urban restaurants are mom and pop operations that will be unable to recover financially and adopt to new standards after an extended layoff.

Public transportation. In particular, public transportation is critical to commerce in New York City and other large metropolitan areas. The City will not be able to operate without an efficiently operated and safe infrastructure. Distancing and cleanliness are over-riding issues.

Airlines. If CEOs want their salespeople on the road to see clients, airlines will need to be ready to accommodate travelers with a safe experience. Airplanes are not benign places under the best of circumstances. Passengers are seated close to each other, and air conditioning systems propagate the spread of germs. Distancing will mean fewer passengers on each flight. Lower load factors will be a financial disaster for airlines.

Movies. There are thousands movie theaters throughout the country. Many Americans enjoy seeing a film outside of their homes from time to time. Will they do so if they are squeezed together next to a stranger. Once again, distancing becomes a problem, especially if there’s a cougher beside you or behind you. Similar to airlines, customers will be spread out so attendance in theaters will decrease making them less profitable.

Religious ceremonies. Sitting closely together in houses of worship also defies distancing mandates. Decrease attendance in churches, synagogues and mosques will impact their revenues.

Hospitals. Hospitals have always been hot spots where infection and germs are in the air and on the floor by definition. The pandemic has made the issue more acute, as hospitals administrators struggle to keep patients from infecting each other. Air conditioning, disposal of used medical items and the multitude of visitors make these places very dangerous.

Doctors’ offices. On a smaller scale, doctors’ offices face the same issues as hospitals. Sick people in waiting rooms will accommodate the spread of infection. Doctors will likely employ distancing in their offices as they resume their practices.

Gyms and health clubs. Exercise places have historically been difficult places to keep clean. The spread of germs on equipment, in locker rooms and in showers are major issues. Getting patrons to wipe off machines has always been a problem, and we would expect that users will be even more reluctant to touch the equipment when gyms and health clubs reopen.

Large outdoor sporting events. I wonder what baseball, football and basketball teams will do about distancing. The immediate reaction has been to schedule events on TV without any fans in attendance. Grand events, like the Olympics and the World Cup are in great danger of being cancelled. And what about my Yankee season tickets.

The playground. What parent, in their right mind, would bring their child to a public playground where the equipment is never cleaned?

As you can see distancing is going to create enormous problems moving forward. Disregarding distancing recommendations will likely increase the spread of infection and discourage attendance at many of the activities we love.

It seems that a vaccine, at this time, is the most important element to getting the world back to normalcy.

Is Trump Solely Responsible?

It’s become fashionable to attribute the negative effect of the pandemic to Donald Trump. While I’m not a fan of the president, I believe this criticism has been over-done.

The president is supposed to lead the country through dire moments, and the pandemic certainly qualifies as one. The best case would be that all Americans join hands and work together to defeat an existential threat to mankind. The battle against the virus has not been a great moment for our leaders, and even worse for the president.

In fairness, doctors and scientists have not done a sterling job battling pandemics historically. The Spanish flu, which I wrote about in an earlier blog, occurred 101 years ago. That pandemic took 50 million lives. The leaders at the time didn’t distinguish themselves, nor did their medical counterparts. Similarly, the Swine flu in 2009, under the watch of Barack Obama, killed 284 thousand people. Science has not kept up with viral diseases for some reason.

Trump employed prestigious experts to help him make decisions about closing borders, limiting travel, isolation, closing businesses and many other things. Some decisions were right, and some were wrong. Notwithstanding Trump’s attitude and propensity to make decisions based upon political cross currents, he’s done his best. Nobody in history has gotten honors for their efforts to fight pandemics.

Although it’s outrageous to say so, doctors deserve some criticism. They have trouble projecting the scale of the disease, determining when it and where it started, how to best combat it and recommending when to return to normalcy. As I pointed out in my Spanish flu essay, the medical people are asking the same questions about pandemics that they did 101 years ago. With all the advancements in technology since then, how is it we are experiencing thousands and thousands of cases and deaths?

The president has the power to take action on his own without Congress if our national security is at risk. There are many complicated aspects to this policy that politicians debate every day. For instance, George W. Bush took action against terrorists after 9/11, and received concurrence after the fact by Congress. Very few opponents of the president criticized him for acting quickly. But, when Trump took action against a different kind of attack on our country, Congress demanded to be involved. [I know. They don’t trust him.]

Lawmakers are trying desperately to protect their turf as delineated in the Constitution. Whenever a president takes action without congressional concurrence, Congress goes berserk. In the case of Trump, it’s been that much more expansive.

I hasten to point out that Obama was stymied when he lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. He was unable to enact any legislation, so he established the precedent of issuing executive orders to circumvent the prerogatives of Congress. Donald Trump has copied Obama’s strategy.

In a few months, Americans are going to vote for the next president. Unfortunately, liberals have designated a weak candidate to represent their party. Trump is extraordinarily vulnerable, but his success in the election really depends upon his performance fighting the disease and reinvigorating the economy, not Biden’s campaign acumen. Right now, it appears Trump is losing ground. But things can change quickly. In the meantime, Democrats are doing everything possible to denigrate Trump’s efforts, with the liberal press complicit in the effort.

It would be better if all Americans back the leadership and fight the best fight we can against the pandemic.

 

Treating Pandemic In 1919 vs. 2020

This an opportune moment to muse about what has taken place, and what has not, over the last few months relating to the Corona virus pandemic.

Needless to say, the entire world is experiencing a phenomenon that has morphed into an existential threat. Literally every person on earth is a target of the new virus.

Viruses and diseases have attacked mankind since the beginning of time (most likely). In most of these incidents, the medical bureaucracy of the time was caught off guard and surprised by the tenacity of certain influenza diseases. Medical experts pondered, and are still pondering today, about how these afflictions developed, where they came from, how to heal them and how to prevent them from recurring.

A good friend of mine sent me a paper that appeared in a magazine called Science (the article was published in May 1919). It’s a treatise on a virus pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu. The virus plagued mankind for about 12 months from the spring of 1918 to early summer of 1919. It infected 500 million people, about 1/3 of the world’s population. Fifty million people lost their lives, most deaths were caused by complications related to respiratory problems.

What’s interesting about the treatise is that it could well have been written about our coronavirus. Not much has changed relating to our knowledge of these rogue influenzas.

A section of the treatise deals with prevention and the factors that make it difficult to treat people with the disease.

It indicates that the public is indifferent. People do not appreciate the risks posed by influenza in spite of warnings by authorities. Sound familiar?

Secondly, the measures employed to fight the disease are sometimes not that effective or adopted by the general public. Unlike some diseases that stem from improper handling of waste and sewage, the flu spreads from excreta of the nose and throat that is projected into the air and pollutes hands, food, clothing and the entire environment of the infected person. It is not an easy task to control the respiration of an entire country or the world.  Sound familiar?

Thirdly, the highly infectious nature of the infection adds to the difficulty of its control. A fleeting moment of exposure can be disastrous and result in millions of deaths. Sound familiar?

The paper goes on to speak of the elusiveness and unpredictability of the 1919 pandemic influenza. Where it came from, when it started and how to stem the tide are discussed. There are no definitive answers just like today.

And then there are the 12 recommended actions by the Surgeon General of the Army. They include the following:

  1. Avoid crowding, flu is a crowd disease.
  2. Smother coughs and sneezes.
  3. Breathe through your nose.
  4. The Three C’s, clean mouth, clean skin and clean clothes.
  5. Keep cool when you walk, and warm when you ride and sleep.
  6. Open windows.
  7. Chew your food well.
  8. Wash your hands before eating.
  9. Don’t let waste products of digestion accumulate, drink a glass of water in the morning.
  10. 10.Don’t use a napkin, towel, spoon, fork, glass or cup used by another that was not washed.
  11. Avoid tight clothes, tight shoes and tight gloves.
  12. When the air is pure, breath all of it you can, breathe deeply.

The observation I have is that very little has been discovered about pandemic influenza over the past 101 years. The current cast of experts are just as befuddled about the details of the flu as experts were a century ago. Of course, we are capable, hopefully, of creating effective treatments and vaccines today.

God help us. And thank you Chris E for sending me this enlightening treatise. Be well everybody and remember to breathe through your nose.

The Realities of Distancing

If the future realities of life mandate distancing, many institutions in America will need to restructure their physical space. This essay will discuss some significant examples.

The ultimate purpose of distancing is to decrease the transmission of disease, especially in a pandemic. The closer we are to each other, the more likely that disease will spread. Generally, experts say that about six feet of separation is a safe distance. This is not always the case. It’s dependent upon the characteristics of the disease being battled. For instance, coronavirus spreads by air and direct contact, supposedly. Other diseases might spread by blood and other bodily excrement exposure.

To this point, when greeting others in this day and age, some type of contact usually occurs. In a formal setting, it might be a handshake. In more personal encounters it could include a kiss or a hug. Frankly, these might be some of the most dangerous things to do if coronavirus is prevalent. For instance, it implies that family situations, where contact is pervasive, needs to be reconsidered.

Distancing is more of an issue in crowded places than sparsely populated areas. For instance, an airborne disease would likely spread more rapidly in New York City then in Fargo ND. The current pandemic has proven without a doubt that places with dense populations are more at risk than rural areas. In New York City, our apartment buildings, office spaces, restaurants, schools and bars are usually crowded. It will always be a challenge to maintain distance in these high density places. Could this inspire a change in location by some people from urban to rural locations for health reasons? Possibly, especially if the current pandemic is followed by another.

More specifically, the distancing issue becomes problematic in urban neighborhoods where many people go to restaurants for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. There are hundreds of small places to eat in every big city. Virtually all of them are congested and would need significant redesign to offset distancing risks. Some say that outdoor restaurants could be the answer. In New York City, this strategy would not be effective from November to April when the weather is colder.

In urban areas, a plethora of office buildings are commonplace. Skyscrapers represent the biggest challenge. Thousands of people enter and exit these places each day. At a minimum, they arrive and depart by elevators. Many people lunch outside the building resulting in more close proximity. The movement of scores of workers in crammed elevators is one of the significant issues relating to distancing. Exacerbating the situation is the proximity of workers to each other while working in open office space.

It seems that the nature of real estate will change over time to deal with distancing. All the facilities where people work closely together will need to change radically. This may necessitate huge expenditures that will tax the resources of many companies. Even in large companies with blue collar workers on an assembly line, problems pervade.

Millions of people look for entertainment outside the home, a major challenge for those that encourage distancing. Whether it be drinking at a bar, dancing at a nightclub or watching a baseball game, close proximity of attendees is afoot. These are fertile places to build a pandemic. What will happen to these activities in the future is anybody’s guess.

For the time being, we could have a minor reprieve as the warmer months are upon on us. Children are also out of school now. People will flock to the oceans, lakes and other open areas. Restaurants can serve meals outside to possibly meet recommended distancing minimums. But how concert halls, sporting contests and such accommodate risks is a mystery at this point, other than to schedule events without any fans.

And perhaps, the likely scenario is that people will not worry about distancing as the pandemic subsides. A recurrence, or an entirely new disease may then cause us to regret that decision.

Education After The Pandemic

One of the many troubling issues impacted by the pandemic is the future of higher education. Virtually every college has either shut down or provided instruction online during the last few months of the school year. Will colleges provide a different kind of educational experience moving forward? Seems to me the answer is a resounding probably.

The state of college education was not perfect before the virus ruined our lives. Millions of past and current students incurred extraordinarily large student loans. Many politicians are proposing that this debt be forgiven or restructured, yet another prospective entitlement that the US government may not be able to afford.

The classes some students take have not been helpful in finding rewarding employment after graduation. Arts and letters courses do not provide the academic knowledge most corporations are looking for in new recruits. The result has been over-qualified graduates in low paying jobs.

So, let’s agree that the educational system was ripe for change. School administrators were considering a plethora of significant modifications even before the virus reared its ugly head.

When you think about the settings of most large campuses, you probably have a vision of an idyllic place of learning with scores of students mingling, studying and smiling.

Could there be a better place for a contagious disease to spread than colleges? Dorm rooms are mostly unkempt, multiple people reside in one suite, classrooms are crowded, the library is jammed each evening and the athletic facilities are places where viruses and bacteria can easily multiply. What about the social scene, where everyone is crowed into bars and party spaces?

The question is can students affectively learn remotely? This is a subject that has not been fully examined until now. Many elementary schools, high schools and colleges have taken to teaching via the Internet recently. It seems to work fine, especially for children that don’t need extra supervision. The young ones, maybe not so good.

Of course, the pandemic’s schooling system has a gigantic void- socialization. Being with others makes children more in tune with society where interfacing with others is so important, at least up to now. Is giving up the social part of education worth it if hundreds, thousands or millions of people can avoid getting sick and possibly die?

The older students are protesting the loss of social interaction in this new reality. In college and grad schools, in particular, students are crying out that their education is being diminished because they aren’t able to have face to face conversations with others, to build long-term relationships.

How will schools react? Will they decrease tuition? Room and board expenses would decrease if students studied from home. So, the total cost of attending college could go down materially, a good thing (for students, not for schools). Will foreign students continue to study in the US? This is important to colleges for several reasons. One is that these students pay full tuition and generally are not subsidized, so their tuition payments are important to schools. Secondly, not having international contribution on campus would be unfortunate for diversity reasons.

And now, it’s time for my observations and opinions. Notwithstanding the student debt problem, and students taking irrelevant classes that don’t help them at work, I think our educational system is excellent. There are problems affiliated with admission policies, income inequality and diversity. But, if you want your children to be educated to do something wonderful for their families and themselves, the US educational system is the best place in the world to learn. I would be happy if schools went back to the original structure after the pandemic is defeated.

On the other side, student debt has become a multi-trillion-dollar albatross for many young people and their parents. There are many things we can learn from the pandemic educational experience that could allay this growing problem. For those that don’t need a social experience, an online education should be far less expensive and be offered by the most prestigious schools.

Colleges should include a social experience, but the main objective is to be educated. I hope we make available some of the new techniques that have been developed to fight against the virus. And perhaps some children can do the requisite work in less time (three years instead of four) if they give up some of the un-productive social activities.

Pandemic vs. Economic Armageddon

Countries, corporations and even small businesses are in a very tenuous position because of the pandemic. It’s a fact that returning to normalcy is the only way to avoid financial Armageddon. Yet, the risk of higher incidences of coronavirus that will likely result from normalcy could be catastrophic for those leaders and businessmen who move forward with this strategy.

Let’s discuss the two options available to leaders in a general way.

Getting the economy back on track is clearly one of the highest priorities for everyone. Millions of people in the US are receiving unemployment support and other benefits, but there is no way these entitlements can last too much longer.

It’s important to appreciate that the country is already deeply in debt. Our leaders decided to give a boost to companies in dire straits and to individuals that were furloughed or summarily fired. It was the right thing to do, but it added several trillion dollars to our already bulging national deficit.

Basic economic theory tells us that printing too much money can weaken a currency. Excessive spending may cause a devaluation of the dollar and fuel hyper-inflation. Exacerbating the situation would be the short-term impact of declining GNP. Ironically, less spending by consumers and businesses could possibly bring on a serious recession, or a depression that could rival the one in the early 1900s.

If the economy does not improve soon, it’s likely that millions of smaller businesses will be closed permanently. Consider the plethora of small mom and pop businesses that are domiciled in our cities. No one bankruptcy is significant, but hundreds of thousands of them would be unthinkable. These businesses will fail and never open again, if Americans are forced to continue to eschew them as part of an effort to fight the virus. Similarly, many larger businesses could face financial demise if workers are not allowed to return in the face of federal, state and local governments edicts.

A decision to stand tall and confront the coronavirus by continuing with isolation and distancing may be beneficial in the battle to rid us of the disease, but it will ultimately tank the economy. And with this contingency, citizens will suffer in unimaginable ways.

The other alternative is for governmental leaders to encourage people to reopen their businesses. The stock market is waiting for this existential moment, but the euphoria might be short lived. There is evidence worldwide that those countries who return to normalcy experience a ramp up of new cases of the virus. Given that therapies and more importantly vaccines have not been approved, resurgence could affect millions of people health-wise.

So, a decision to move forward with the economy is equally dangerous for our leaders. A better economy with a million more cases of the virus may or may not be a good trade-off. A decision may very well be impacted by projected new deaths.

Government officials in the US and around the world are in a precarious situation. What are the trade-offs of the two alternatives available? If leaders guess wrong and a lot of people become sick and die, they will be ostracized? If they are correct, they will be heroes and reap the political benefits.

The best strategy for the US and any large corporation may be to wait a short period of time until the results of others can be analyzed.

Note: This last analysis also holds true for CEOs of big companies who must decide when to ask their employees to return to work. Waiting to see how other similar companies fair maybe the wisest thing to do.

 

 

The Subway Conundrum

New York City has become an enigma that is perplexing its leaders as they plan for a return to normalcy. One of the big questions is how will the governor and mayor get several million people to work every day without the obvious dangers affiliated to public transportation?

A subway car is a petri dish for the coronavirus. It’s underground. It will be hot and humid in the subways in the spring and summer. Commuters are stacked into cars like sardines. The trains are filthy for the most part. Cleaning them is a logistical nightmare and really too costly for the Metropolitan Transit Authority to do effectively.

The CEOs of all the major companies in New York City are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get their employees into work without endangering them. The threat relates to distancing and uncleanliness. The honest answer is, it may be impossible to create a safe environment for the thousands of strap holders that depend upon subways.

If services are rearranged, limiting the number of people in each car, increasing travel at off hours, closing the subways from 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., the situation would be better, but can the MTA manage the process.

Most business activity occurs between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM each day, when workers are required to be present on the job. Banks aren’t going to open in the evening. Restaurants aren’t going to serve food all night long. The New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ are not going to change their hours of operation. Motor Vehicles isn’t going to accommodate drivers in the middle of the night. And what about sporting events, nightclubs and Broadway?

Many children also commute to school on subways. Their hours are not really flexible. And all those office buildings that accommodate hundreds of thousands of personnel are going to find it difficult to manage the flow of employees during high traffic times on elevators. Distancing will be virtually impossible.

The first thing we need to do is decrease the number of new cases of people suffering from the virus. While doing so, somebody better be trying to figure out how to move several million people into and out of Manhattan and surrounding boroughs safely.

Health Concerns vs. Economic Disaster

The battle between supporters of these two strategies will have a profound effect on the outcome of the presidential election.

How long can the pandemic last without permanently destroying America? It’s time to ask the tough questions as our leaders decide when and how to restart the economy.

It’s not difficult to forecast what will happen to the US economically if Americans don’t go back to work in the near future. It might be the worst of all contingencies, a full-fledged depression.  More and more people will be unemployed and eventually be unable to care for their families. Liberals don’t appreciate that the US’s ability to print more money and give it to those in need is reaching the breaking point. The viability of the American dollar could be at stake.

Aside from out of control unemployment, our leaders may have to deal with many other possible implications of keeping people at home. How long will Americans continue to abide by orders to stay inside and distance from others? Already young people are defying warnings from governors and mayors. Orthodox Jews ignored an order from Mayor de Blasio in New York City to not conduct a large celebration of a deceased rabbi’s life. Scores of celebrants interfaced in close quarters and took a chance they would spread the virus.

And how long will parents be able to restrain their children? Schools will be ending soon, so no longer will the kids be required to sit through online classes. Cabin fever is setting in. Humans are social animals. It will be impossible for officials to keep control and virtually incarcerate citizens for much longer.

Literally, the existence of retailers, restaurants and sporting teams is in the hands of the federal and local governments throughout the country.

By forbidding individuals to shop at retailers, officials are dooming a whole industry, which in turn effects many workers, including the sales chain and distribution companies that service the stores.

Restaurants are feeling the pain. Given that many are small businesses with limited resources, it will not take an extended period of closure to put these people out of business permanently. It has already happened for many mom and pop eateries that feed many Americans.

Sporting events are really important to the people who buy tickets, the cities that house them and those that watch events on TV. And what about the companies and workers that televise sporting events? Millions, which will soon turn into billions, have been lost.

What is the alternative? Officials could open the economy and tell everyone to return to normalcy. The big question is: will Americans send their children to schools, go to restaurants and attend sporting events if the authorities say it is OK do so? And if they respond positively, how will the virus react?

The final issue is the real kicker. Can this pandemic become more virulent than it already is? Will it become more aggressive and kill substantially more people, if isolation and distancing ceases? Is there another outbreak on the horizon, if America gives up its safeguards? Can the virus actually threaten the existence of mankind?

Frankly, the last question probably far-fetched. The disease is a killer, but most people survive it. The data has been slow to come to Americans, but it indicates that mostly older people with pre-existing health issues are the virus’ target. The US has had about 60,000 deaths to date, among 340 million citizens. It seems unlikely that coronavirus is an existential threat to the human race. But, left unchecked a lot more people will die prematurely.

So, our leaders must decide whether to give us an all clear sign, to save our economy. If they do so, and the virus fades away, the decision makers will be heroes. If the opposite occurs, and body bag start piling up, the decision makers will be scorned.