An unavoidable side effect of the coronavirus is the economic impact of following best medical practices.
Restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms and other businesses are closing — most under government mandate.
Some can continue to offer limited services. For instance, many restaurants are offering take-out service. But shutting down or continuing at partial capacity means businesses are losing money. And with closures, most staff aren’t needed.
This adds up to an economic gut-punch that West Virginia can ill-afford.
Government stimulus packages are on the way, but as the duration and public health impact of the virus remain vague but ominous, it’s unclear if this will be enough to help businesses and employees survive.
Even those working from home are at limited efficiency. West Virginia’s broadband internet infrastructure is, in a word, horrendous. And with so many more people relying on it now, service is only going to get worse. That, again, hurts businesses and employees.
West Virginia has an older, less-healthy population on average than most of the rest of the country, and with hospitals and other health care providers shutting down, the state is already at a disadvantage in combating a pandemic.
The economics, unfortunately, do not paint a bright picture, either.
The federal government should be lauded for trying to help citizens and business owners financially. But with so many unanswered questions, it’s hard to know if a federal handout will be enough. With a vaccine for COVID-19 anywhere from a year to 18 months away, it’s hard to say how long West Virginians will be living like this — or how long they can make it without reliable income.