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A Hard Look At How We Can Realistically Open the Economy

Now that it’s been just over two months since the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation, citizens nationwide are getting antsy to get back to life as usual (or, as “usual” as it can be.) There is certainly no lack of desire for the economy to open up and re-employ the over 36 million Americans who have filed for unemployment, and the “antsiness” is resulting in armed protests in Michigan, protests at the closed California State Capitol, and hundreds of protestors at the Harrisburg capitol in Pennsylvania. 

In addition to an exhaustion with stay-at-home orders, the real incite for these protests appear to be economic concerns. Last month, CNBC reported that 7.5 million small businesses face the risk of closing their doors permanently if the Coronavirus and its accompanying restrictions continue at the same rate. Business owners are desperate for some reprieve and to open their doors again. While we won’t fully understand the full economic impact the pandemic has had until years from now, many believe that reopening the national economy is the best way to curb more hardship. 

Easing of Restrictions 

According to ABC News, a  total of 45 states are currently easing restrictions and looking to open the economy, while keeping public gathering places such as movie theaters and many restaurants closed. Recently, golf courses and other outdoor activities have opened. The fear of a complete re-opening of all businesses and the economy as a whole rests in a potential second surge of new cases once people are out and around each other once again. While the curve has flattened since its peak, there’s no telling what will happen if lockdowns entirely ease. In fact, a second surge of cases is fully expected, and the impact of the second surge must be lessened.

Many states have sought to find a hybrid model or compromise where some businesses can reopen and their local economies can receive some stimulation without a complete re-opening. For example, Boston’s governor Charlie Baker is preparing to create a phased reopening plan for the city in the next week. It’s expected that this phased reopening may entail a slow release of younger Bostonians returning to the workforce first, with the most vulnerable and older populations sheltering in place for a while longer, but details will be released shortly. 

Measures Needed

As for a complete re-opening or the remaining five states to consider easing restrictions, a number of measures are needed — measures that are keeping the nation and the states in a constant waiting game. Chief among these measures is an available and effective vaccine. President Trump set a goal to have a vaccine developed and distributed by the end of 2020, but even then, that’s over six months away. A second measure necessary is greater access to testing, which has been a difficulty nationwide for months, but is necessary to determine who is infectious, who has developed antibodies, and how to proceed for the short term. 

Operation StaySafe Is a coalition of industry-leading medical testing companies (20 charter members) that came together to offer comprehensive safe and scalable testing for American businesses and consumers as well. They believe that testing is the answer to protecting citizens and jumpstarting the economy because of the level of confidence it can provide. The ambiguity of the COVID-19 risk is the main impetus to the social distancing guidelines. But, knowing who has it, who has had it and developed antibodies, and who is still at risk can forge the path forward.

Giving employees the confidence to return to work and consumers the knowledge that everyone has been tested where they do business, can return confidence to the ecosystem to begin to transact.  No one company can provide the full solution for a city, state or major corporation as we open the economy.  It requires the entire industry of experts and capabilities coming together in an Open Business Architecture to solve this challenge for the country. 

While the answers for the future of the lock down and COVID-19 impact are nebulous at best, comprehensive, inclusive testing is the quickest way to accelerate confidence to the public during America’s civic re-openings.