Where the buck stops

Yes, the current novel coronavirus is dangerous, will take lives and leave some with permanent lung damage. We just don’t know the extent. We don’t know who’s next or how long we’ll have to hole-up in our homes, afraid of everyone and every situation that involves being around people. The virus is invisible and our knowledge of it inadequate. That’s a recipe for chaos. It brings out the best and the worst of people. We may be overreacting or underreacting. If we go by the World Health Organization’s advice, we’re not doing nearly enough.

But we don’t get to make the big decisions that affect our country. We can self-isolate, self-quarantine, keep our social distances and wash our hands. Elected officials and their appointees make the macro-decisions. We’re the micro-deciders. And the novel coronavirus – this minuscule spec is controlling the show.

Everything is backward. Instead of the top down, it’s from the bottom up. Let me explain.

We’ve witnessed an event that will change the way people communicate, do business and attend to their personal hygiene. Not just for the duration of the current pandemic, but long after. Maybe generations.

While some in Page are working from home, some are kept home from working. This means difficulty paying essential bills. At this time, Congress is hashing out plans to help people affected by the government’s short-sightedness. From what I’ve read, the plan is teetering back and forth between who should benefit the most, the people who need it most or big corporations. On this, my basic understanding of economics falls short. One theory going around is like the “flatten the curve” model used to prevent overloading our health services. It’s similar when trying to control the economy, only the upward curve is downward. In other words, flatten the spikes and spread out the losses over time so our financial institutions can manage them. But if everyone is broke, there’s no money circulating. I don’t understand the logic well enough to know if it makes sense. I do know that a slow response costs more than a quick response.

I’m not counting on a specific moment when everyone pops the corks and celebrates winning the COVID-19 war. The war isn’t over. This virus could spring up again every year. New strains will follow, maybe things we’ve never imagined before. We don’t know.

One thing we do know is that we need to be ready and not wait so long, and not take so long to take viruses seriously. We’ve seen the movies; now we’ve seen a taste of the reality.

But the show must go on. At some point, everyone will crawl out of their holes and life will resume. Smart people are already planning for the change, revising plans and creating new business models to deal with the shift.

After all, many of us are still working, just not in our offices. The city of Page still functions and is planning ahead. Some things can’t stop. We’ve got roads to fix, development to encourage and marketing is even more important than ever if our town is to prosper. Ideas are being thrown around, some good, some, maybe not so good. But ideas are flowing, and they’re needed. We all need to think about how we’ll navigate the new world.
I talked with Page City Manager Darren Coldwell a few days ago. The economic development team is continuing with marketing plans, so they’ll be prepared when things calm down. I’m sure they’re anticipating what the new world will be like in their discussions and plans. I have faith in our city leaders. None of them have ever been subjected to anything like this. No one has. There’s no manual.

I’m watching many of Page’s go-getter citizens jump into action. As usual, the Chamber of Commerce is nonstop on top of things. Churches are doing their parts. Schools are feeding children; local businesses are helping in different ways––this town has sprung to life in a new way for a new world. Where does the buck stop? Page America.