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COVID is Spiking Across the South: Is Another Shut Down Inevitable?

June 29

This week, COVID is back in the news and multiple US states are seeing spikes, mostly across the sunbelt region. This prompts a daunting question for many business owners: is another shutdown inevitable? In this article we will take a deeper dive into COVID and try to get a full understanding of the situation in the United States. We will also consider the impact that testing may or may not have on the increase in cases as well as effective steps that you can take to protect your employees.

As of June 26th, 2020, the US has set a record of new COVID-19 cases for the past 3 days in a row. Recently, the single day case count in the USA exceeded 40,000 for the first time. Clearly this is not a good sign. Coupled with the fact that there is no appetite or room to shutdown economic activity for a second time, the United States may well be headed off a cliff that could send case counts skyrocketing, overwhelm hospitals, and lead to thousands of more deaths. Florida and Texas are dealing with two of the worst surges, leading to their respective governors closing bars on Friday in a last minute bid to slow down case counts in environments where mask wearing and social distancing are not possible.

Other states that are spiking include Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, and Tennessee. There are two common themes that we can identify in the states which are seeing spikes in their cases. The first is that these states were some of the first to open and they did not meet the guidelines for reopening. The second is that these states did not see massive spikes before the first lockdown in March. This meant that the populace had no immunity. When coupled with lax reopening procedures, it’s no surprise that this spike in cases is the result.

We also want to address the myth that testing can wholly account for the rise in cases. We are politically agnostic here at Synergy Works Group. We do not take a stand on politics. However, there are some facts which cut through political noise and after examining these facts, it’s clear that increased testing simply does not account for the rise in cases.

When looking at the above chart we can see that testing has risen at a fairly linear rate. However, when we examine the percentage of positive tests, we can see that at first it rose, then reduced, and then rose again. This recent rise in the percentage of positive COVIID cases means that increased testing clearly does not account for the rise in cases, and that community spread is running rampant. The above chart can be found by clicking here and is updated by Johns Hopkins daily. Also keep in mind that even though the percentage of positive tests is lower than it was in March, the greatly increased number of tests means that the overall case counts in many areas and the US overall are actually higher than they were at any point in the past. Additionally, many states are seeing hospitalizations increase as well as ICU capacities being strained to their limits. With or without testing, this points to a clear rise in infections and community transmission.

Now that we have established that COVID cases are on the rise, let’s consider how the government and society will respond to this spike in cases. As of now, I would say that it is unlikely that we will see a nationwide lockdown re-imposed. There is simply no appetite to ruin the economy and furlough millions of workers again. However, in some regions such as Houston, Texas, it may be necessary to have a lockdown to quell the virus if things end up getting out of control. What is more likely is a mandatory mask requirement. While this was previously a partisan issue, this week Republican senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott from Florida urged Floridians to wear masks in public. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who is one of the President’s strongest allies said that he disagreed with President Trump over mask wearing. The Republican Miami mayor recently imposed a mandatory mask requirement with fines for those that fail to comply. The idea that a Republican would require masks and fine people for not wearing them was unthinkable just a month ago, yet here we are today. As cases continue to rise, we will see more and more Republicans encourage or require mask wearing.

Finally, we would like to discuss the steps that you can take as a business owner to protect your workers and business. The first thing that we would recommend is requiring employees to wear masks indoors. The worst possible scenario that you could face is a large outbreak which results in a significant portion of your employees falling ill. Secondly, we recommend offloading all non-essential workers to work from home. Even if a vaccine is developed by January of 2021, which we find to be highly optimistic, it will still take months to distribute to everyone. For this reason, we do not expect the COVID crisis to end within the next year. If you are a restaurant owner, we highly recommend socially-distanced tables and not seating to fully capacity.

Finally, please remember that we are here to help you. Synergy Works Group is committed to helping small businesses through this crisis and we will be happy to assist you in any needs that you have. If you would like us to write about a specific topic or prepare a personalized news report on a topic that affects your business or industry, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we would be more than happy to provide you with that service.