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Fear is Killing the Service Industry–Not Coronavirus

Everything you need to know about Corona Virus in the hospitality industry can be found here.

UPDATE: JERSEY CITY IS THE FIRST TO PLACE A CURFEW ON BARS AND RESTAURANTS IN THE US. SEVERE RESTRICTIONS ARE IN PLACE FOR ITALIAN INDUSTRY.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen dozens of gathers canceled among fears of Corona virus, now the latest has been the NCAA tournament–where no fans will be allowed to attend any game–and a complete shutdown of sporting events in Ohio.

Governor DeWine stated that, “Ohioans have to understand what the facts are, that any gathering of people in close proximity to each other is dangerous,” and was noncommittal on how long the order world last. Ohio has 4 confirmed cases.

Just a few days ago, Santa Clara county in California banned gatherings of 1,000 or more people for three weeks. A move that, at the time, was seen as the most forceful in the country. Health officer Sara Cody said during a press conference, “21 cases — nearly half of the county’s total — are now believed to have been contracted through community contact.” Santa Clara county has an estimated population of 1,937,570.

Based on some projections, the closure of the NCAA tournament alone is going to cost Atlanta, Dayton, and Albany a combined $193.8 million because of missing fans.

The other big even this year is of course St. Patrick’s day. Several cities have canceled their parades among concerns of Coronavirus, including Dublin, Boston and Denver. In 2018, the National Retail Federation found that Americans planned to spend $5.9 billion to celebrate St. Patrick’s day, with the average person spending $39.65.

Thousands of people were expected to attend the parades in cities where they have been canceled, potentially costing local businesses tens of thousands of dollars this weekend.

As of the writing of this article, there were 987 confirmed cases in the United States and 25 deaths.

Truly hard numbers on the impact of Coronavirus on the hospitality industry will be hard to come by until well after the disease is gone, however based on local and international responses thus far, we should expect that the economic damage will be on the extreme side.

This is partially because the CDC and WHO believe that the incubation period for Covid-19 is between 1 and 14 days, which is prompting government officials to place three week to 30 day bans on gatherings and travel.

This is a particularly difficult problem for hotels and tourist destinations along the East Coast, as the travel ban from Europe takes place.

Potential Solutions

Congress is poised to pass legislation that will not only help individual Americans and their families, but will also provide relief to businesses that are being affected by the slow down. Among the ideas being floated is a payroll tax cut–which would keep an estimated $800 Billion circulating in the economy–and extending access to unemployment insurance as a way to provide sick leave for those who do not have it.

Additionally, there is talk of allowing for low-interest loans, or guarenteed loans for hotels, and air and cruise lines.

For now, the President has instructed the IRS to allow, “a delay of tax payments” for–theoretically–everyone. This would mean that taxes won’t be due on April 15th like they normally are but would be payable at a later date.

Congress is scheduled to go on a week long break after Friday, so a deal is expected to be struck on Thursday for some relief until they come back in session.

Opinion

The world’s political leaders are determined to show that they are taking this thing seriously. The death rate is higher than for the flu, though it is still sitting at just 3.6%. Realistically, there are two groups that need to be worried: The elderly, and those who are immuno-compromised.

The vast majority of people are showing, “mild” symptoms when they are tested positive for the disease, meaning–as I stated in a previous article–the disease is being spread by people who think they have a cold.

Again, because government agencies are all trying to show that they can handle this disease, the major focus is on testing kits. That’s what all of the concern is about. Well, that and the fact that because nobody is naturally immune, the disease looks like it can spread fairly easily.

When your state’s Governor declares a State of Emergency, what they are really saying is, “We need more testing kits.”

You will hear that they are trying to ensure that medical facilities aren’t being over-whelmed, so that those who need treatment can get it. However, it is vitally important to remember that there is no treatment for this disease. As the WHO puts it,

To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

The way I see it, the more government officials panic, the more they are paradoxically overwhelming the health system. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. These people are expecting healthcare shortages, so they tell people that they need to be paranoid of each other, which makes everyone question every cough, which overwhelms the health system.

That’s a problem, because–as the World Health Organization stated–80% of people don’t actually need to see a doctor.

When we talk about symptoms and treatment we need to remember that the word “treatment” doesn’t necessarily mean seeing a doctor. Instead, it means that you, “treat” your fever with over the counter medication like Tylenol, or other medications that you can get at your grocery store.

So, when we say that 80% of the infected don’t need special treatment, what we mean is that 80% of people just need to eat some soup and watch Judge Judy.

Special treatment would something like hospitalization because the person can’t breathe, or they prescription medication to help them breathe because their lungs are compromised.

This mass panic is a shame, because our industry is being decimated, the elderly aren’t receiving the care they need. The reactions continue to be more extreme, which makes every other issue worse.

50% of all ad revenue will be donated to the Bartenders Guild to assist hospitality staff during this crisis, so please share this post!

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