MASK UP – IT’S ABOUT OUR ECONOMIC HEALTH TOO! - Recovery Council OpEd
There’s a lot of talk currently about how wearing – or not wearing - a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is a political statement. Nothing could be further from reality. You know what it will take to get our regional economy healthy and productive again? It is going to take YOU!
The medical evidence reveals more each day about the benefits of universal masking, especially when social distancing isn’t possible and when folks are in a confined indoor space. One cough, or one sneeze can send a cloud of infected droplets as much as 18 feet in the air and can stay in the air for up to three hours landing on unsuspecting and maybe unprotected individuals.
We know that COVID-19 is everywhere in our community and that any one of us could be carriers of the disease and not even be aware that we are. We have no symptoms. We feel just fine. But we may not be. And, we have no reason to get tested because we don’t think we are sick.
But you could infect your barber, hairdresser, barista, grocery store clerk or your neighbor who works at a hospital and not even know you did. That means that YOU could be the reason why our economy falters again and has to shut back down because the COVID-19 infection rate locally and statewide exceeds acceptable numbers. We already are seeing that happen in places like Texas, Arizona and Florida, to name a few. The hopeful news is that you have the power to make sure that doesn’t happen and that our businesses can begin the long road to economic recovery –
it is time to MASK UP TO OPEN UP!
Each and every one of us is affected if our economy is put on lockdown again. Let’s take a look at the numbers. Last year in May our greater Wenatchee Valley region unemployment rate was 5% - this year, it was 14.3%. A dramatic swing in one short year. And the unemployment impact is hitting every sector of our economy – the jobs your kids may have had this summer, perhaps as a lifeguard or temporary work in the parks or summer work for a local business - gone. Those employed in the hospitality and restaurant industry have seen the greatest impact – last year in May there were 6,900 jobs, this year 3,800. The drop in the number of jobs by the end of April was a devastating 53.7%. And then there are the businesses that simply have had to close because their margins were so thin already, that three months without customers or clients were more than they could sustain.
The Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce asked local businesses in March and again a few weeks ago how COVID-19 and an economic shutdown has affected them. The survey outcomes are scary:
- In March, 52% of the 277 businesses surveyed said that their revenues were down by 50% and 30% of the businesses said their revenues were down by as much as 80%. Today, 46% of the businesses responding to the survey say that their revenues are down by more than 50%, with 30% saying that their revenues are down by 80%;
- In March, 55% of the businesses said that they would have to do employee layoffs. Today, 47% of the businesses have laid off employees with an additional 5% of survey responders saying they are still considering layoffs;
- In March, most businesses believed it would take 3 – 12 months to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and 40% believed they could rebound in three months. Today, 73% of the businesses believe it will take 3 – 12 months to recover and only 26% of businesses feel that they will be able to recover in three months.
So, if wearing a mask is a political statement for you, that’s unfortunate – because you may not have a local brew pub or burger place to go celebrate your political victory – they will be closed. It’s time for us to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and make sure that this Valley fights the real enemy – COVID-19 and gets our economy moving again. It’s pretty simple: JUST MASK UP – KEEP OUR BUSINESSES OPEN AND HEALTHY. Thank you.
Mayor Jerrilea Crawford, City of East Wenatchee
Mayor Frank Kuntz, City of Wenatchee
- Alma Chacon, CAFE
- Bob Bugert, Chelan County Commissioner
- Bob Siderius, JDSA Law
- Bruce Buckles, Chelan Douglas Health District
- Charlotte Mayo, Springhill Suites
- Chuck Zimmerman, Ogden Murphy Wallace
- Dan Sutton, Douglas County Commissioner
- David Olson, Columbia Valley Community Health
- Jim Richardson PhD, Wenatchee Valley Community College
- Jim Kuntz, Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority
- Elvis Garcia, Seattle Yoga Lounge
- Garry Arsenault, Chelan PUD Commissioner
- Greg Mercer, LocalTel
- Greg Oakes, Cashmere Valley Bank
- Gustavo Montoya, AgTools Inc.
- Josh Stendera, North Cascades Bank
- Linda Haglund, Wenatchee Downtown Association
- Mike Wade, Fielding Hills Winery & Columbia Fruit Packers
- Sean Flaherty, Wenatchee World
- Stu Freed MD, Confluence Health