I know I don’t have to tell you how hard it’s been for everyone … everywhere to live through the COVID-19 shut downs and the stay-at-home response.  Our Miami Valley citizens … our families, friends and neighbors … have all been stressed by this virus, without even catching it.  As you know, many have lost their jobs, maybe by temporary furloughs, but some permanently.  Many waiting for government help … but most for the return of their jobs.

But think about our area businesses.  Some are weathering this storm, but others are not so fortunate.  Temporary shutdowns have led to insurmountable problems including the closing of businesses never to again open their doors.

It’s about time we start to fully reopen our businesses and get back to driving our economy and employing our community again.  Federal or state stimulus helps, but trust me, those are not permanent solutions.  The real, long-term solution is getting back to work and producing and driving our economy.

Now I don’t pretend to be the expert in the medical and health side of this issue.  But what I do know is that the cure seems worse than the cause.

As I write this column, we are not yet fully open:  retail has started with restrictions; offices are opening with restrictions; manufacturing, distribution, healthcare and many more are beginning to open … but with restrictions.  I know there are risks and will be for yet some time going forward.  But you can get ill from just the regular flu; or killed by driving your car or stepping off a curb too soon.  The world can be a risky place sometimes.  But we must get back to our normal lives.  Back to work.  Back to business.  Back to normalcy … if that’s possible.  It’s time!

I worry about how businesses will survive without their employees and how employees will feel about coming back to work if we don’t open up enough of our childcare centers.  What will our educational institutions do now and in the fall?

All of this is to make a point.  A point that some readers will reject and criticize.  But the point is we must get back to opening up our businesses and supporting them when they do open.  Yes, some may be a bit timid until they get that guaranteed treatment or that preventative vaccine.  But honestly, there are no guarantees and a vaccine could still be months away.  So what do we do in the meantime?  Continue to stay quarantined?  I heard the other day that Los Angeles County wants to keep its citizens under stay-at-home orders through July.  Yes, it may be a hot spot; but its economy will be ruined, taking years to recover if that occurs.

But we are not LA or New York or even some other hot spot.  And it’s about time we fully opened up with reasonable precautions and help get our economy back on track.  We are a nation born of the free enterprise system.  One that thrives on its people’s ingenuity, production and consumption.  We are a nation of consumers.  Big government, already having allocated more than $2 trillion and thus increasing our current $24 trillion national debt, is thinking about more debt … printing more money.  More debt won’t be the answer.  More jobs and open businesses are the better solution … that’s the answer.

So I say, let’s be careful, but let’s get back to work and reopen our economy, our nation and our community.  360 million of us can’t all stay home forever.  It’s time we took back our lives and together took back our communities.  It’s really about time!  Don’t you think?

Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE
President and CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

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