The word of the day perhaps should be “uncertainty.”
Whatever else might be sold out or in short supply, we know there’s plenty of that to go around.
President Donald Trump on Monday urged people not to gather in groups larger than 10 and urged Americans to avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts for at least the next 15 days. He urged against shopping trips and making social visits, visiting nursing homes and retirement or long-term care facilities.
The president acknowledged that coronavirus is not under control, that restrictions, closures and cancellations meant to blunt the virus’ spread might need to remain until August and warned the country might be headed into an economic recession.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a measure of economic health based on 30 leading U.S. stocks, plunged again, this time to a low not seen for more than 30 years.
The city of Galveston declared a state of disaster. Other cities were almost certainly destined to do the same sooner or later.
Although only one person residing in the county had been diagnosed as infected with the virus, it was beyond rational hope that would remain the case for long. The question was, is, not if but when and how many.
Parents were wondering how to manage their work and family commitments with schools closed for at least another week.
Monday must have been a very uncertain day for restaurant operators, many of whom survive on thin margins and constant cash flow even in the best of times.
Employers in every other sector of the economy were wondering how to keep operating without endangering their workers and customers, and workers — that is virtually all of us — were wondering how long they might have jobs to worry about.
Among the few things we all can count on is that life will be different for the foreseeable future and that although we can look to rational sources for guidance, nobody’s going to have a template suitable for solving everybody’s problems.
To greater or lesser degrees, we all are making this up as we go along.
Among the things we should remember is that we’ve been here before. We individuals might not remember, but as a society, we have been here before with small pox, yellow and scarlet fever, with polio and HIV. We have been here before with flu outbreaks that killed thousands and changed the lives of many more.
We’ve been here before in other challenging ways.
In 2008, after Hurricane Ike had laid waste to a large part of this county and before the flood waters had fully subsided, the U.S. economy tanked. We survived and prospered.
We should not forget how during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 we pulled together, pulled our neighbors to safety and ourselves out of the mud and carried on.
The word of the day might be uncertainty, but that will become less and less the case as time passes.
The words for days ahead will be “help,” “cooperate,” “adapt,” “improvise,” “overcome.”
We can do that. We’ve done it before.
• Michael A. Smith