Sunday, March 15, 2020

Day 3 of Lockdown Since Trump Declared National Emergency

COVID-19 is having a reverse effect on my calendar. Instead of filling up appointments and social engagements in my calendar, I am crossing out commitments and obligations.

With no symptoms of the novel coronavirus, Gilda and I have initiated a self-imposed quarantine, meaning we are restricting visits with friends and family while making only necessary trips to stores. 

I’m supposed to get a haircut on Thursday. I think I will reschedule it. We’ve asked our house cleaners to forego their regular cleaning but have arranged for them to receive their customary remuneration. Those who can afford it, and thankfully we can, have a societal obligation to make sure the less fortunate are not overly affected by the curtailment of daily norms. 

I go to Costco about once a week. Given the huge lines there at present—itself a threat of exposure to the virus—I am taking a break from Costco. However that presents a problem with my monthly purchase for the food bank for the hungry and homeless. Somehow I will manage. 

There will be a corporate toll added to the human toll of COVID-19. Undercapitalized companies are in danger. Unless overwhelming, speedy federal action is taken, commercial landlords will demand rents, as banks will demand loan payments from them. Even with Small Business Administration loans, timing—processing paperwork and receipt of monies—will be a life or death matter for many companies.

Banks will demand mortgage payments from homeowners. Not every mortgagee will work for a company that extends their paycheck when the business is closed or under reduced production.

Line staff in stores, restaurants, assembly lines, you name it, will be most affected as they often have the least socked away in “rainy day” accounts.

In announcing his company’s bankruptcy filing last week, Michael Modell, CEO of Modell’s Sporting Goods, highlighted factors that felled his family’s 131-year old enterprise. They included a shorter holiday selling season, a warmer than normal winter, online competitors, especially Amazon, lackluster records for most New York sports team that inhibited purchases by fans, and, the coronavirus pandemic that kept people from shopping. 

Modell’s wasn’t the first retailer to file for bankruptcy protection. It surely won’t be the last to do so in the coming weeks. 

I’m glad I am retired from Chain Store Age, especially during this time of contraction and upheaval in the retail industry. 

With Gilda also retired we try to take walks most days. Today we passed a house that was disposing of a toy stroller and two-sided easel board with a post-it note saying, “Take me.” We didn’t need them for our grandkids but friends of ours could use them, so I drove back after we came home and tossed them into my trunk. 

I left them on their porch and called. Why didn’t I knock on their door? Good question. It’s because they were under a real 14-day quarantine. 

Last week grandpa took his granddaughter to a music class. Two days later he received a note saying the music teacher tested positive. How stupid of that teacher to carelessly expose children and their parents/grandparents to the coronavirus. There is no way he could not have been symptomatic at the time of class.

The only way we are going to defeat the violent spread of this killer is by being smart and considerate.