Rumor Has It
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
I’m not one to get overly panicky, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit anxious about COVID-19 aka the novel coronavirus aka the Wuhan coronavirus (I am now sorry for all of those Wuhan/Wu-Tang jokes I made a couple of weeks ago. And not just because they weren’t even very good jokes).
Sure, some of my worry is personal—I have asthma and would prefer to sit this particular virus out, if possible.
However, most of my worry is for the local business community and the effects a public health crisis is already beginning to have on it.
Stories are emerging from the Seattle area about a hard-hit small business community, with service- and event-related industries in particular taking it on the chin. Not even two weeks into the corona crisis, and business owners and managers are having to make tough decisions regarding cutting back hours and staff layoffs.
As I type this Whatcom County has just confirmed its first case of COVID-19, and some local businesses have already reported the virus having a chilling effect, with fewer patrons during what is already a slow season for many of them. Compounding that is the cancellation—or threat of cancellation—of events, of which there will no doubt be more during the coming days.
In a situation with so many rapidly moving parts, it’s difficult to fault individuals for doing what they need to do to keep themselves safe (except stop hoarding toilet paper, people. You are weirding me out). It’s even harder to take issue with those who call off long-planned events requiring a great deal of work and preparation, knowing full well that canceling is the last thing anyone wants to do.
With so many local businesses (including this one) operating with such thin margins financially, I feel that, as much as we can, each of us must make an even stronger effort than we normally do to give them our support. Luckily, accomplishing this task can be as small as stopping for an Americano at your favorite coffee drive thru or treating a friend to a happy hour cocktail, as medium-sized as seeing that show you were on the fence about or as large as an entire weekend on the town. The nice thing about voting with your dollars in this way is that it’s a mostly pleasurable task, as well as a choose-your-own-adventure-type deal.
I’m well aware that many of us are of limited means and work in the very industries affected by a corona downturn. I’m further aware how unfair it to ask that we extend ourselves even more financially. However, while staying away from each other is the thing that will keep many of us healthy, I firmly believe we’re still in this together. Just don’t try and hug me.