Spokane Journal of Business

The Journal’s View: Amid pain of virus pandemic, hopeful notes begin to ring

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While our hearts go out to family, friends, and colleagues of victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re also seeing that these worst of times can bring out the best in people. And despite current economic pain and the sacrifices that come with the social distancing required to combat the epidemic, we’re hearing some notes of optimism.

We’re all seeing a massive mobilization of resources ranging from expedited support from the highest levels of government down to charitable acts of community volunteers.

For example, through the recently approved federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act stimulus package known as CARES, the U.S. Small Business Administration is empowered to provide qualified employers with forgivable loans aimed at preventing layoffs. The federal government also has boosted unemployment funding, enabling Washington state, for example, to waive waiting periods and job-search requirements for those laid off temporarily due to negative impacts of the pandemic.

One multifaceted effort to aid businesses on the local level is Visit Spokane’s online campaign Support Spokane, which currently promotes patronage of Spokane restaurants offering take-out and delivery services, other small businesses, arts, and other community support.

Also based here, the Innovia Foundation expects to begin distributions this week from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Funds for Eastern Washington and North Idaho to community organizations to aid in serving low-income and vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic. Innovia and its partners so far have raised $1.4 million from the community for the funds.

While many in the business community are being asked to continue to sacrifice more than they could have imagined just a few weeks ago, it’s important keep health and safety of the community at the forefront and to view today’s economic pain as necessary—but also as temporary.

As Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said in a series of interviews last week, this coronavirus outbreak is a humanitarian and health care crisis more than it’s an economic crisis. Moynihan asserts there are no structural issues in the economy triggering a lasting recession, and he suggests an economic rebound could visible by the third quarter.

Of course, we’re also hearing the health crisis is going to appear worse before we begin ascending from the abyss. But as the number of confirmed cases and deaths continues to climb statewide, the most recent University of Washington modeling suggests we’ve passed the peak on hospitalizations in Washington state, and the modeling indicates other daily coronavirus numbers could begin improving in weeks if not days, assuming we continue to practice social distancing through May.

Indeed, Gov. Jay Inslee announced this week that the state is returning hundreds of ventilators to the national stockpile for redistribution to other states that need them more urgently.

That gives us hope that, while continuing to practice social distancing and stay-home measures for now, members of the business community can begin to focus on what they envision their businesses will to be two or three months from now, when we’ll be at a better place.

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