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I’ve always been fascinated with professions that are expected to predict the future. From economists to oddsmakers, the idea that you can calculate a stock price or a final football score is amazing to me, given all the many factors that go into making something happen.

While I think many of us understood the possibility of a biologic threat to our way of life, I doubt seriously any of us could have predicted the level of disruption that we have witnessed following the outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.

From economic destruction to a necessary detachment from family and friends, it is clear that we are living in unprecedented times that no one could have anticipated, expected or prepared for.

Given the enormity of COVID-19’s damage and the importance of reopening our economy quickly and safely, we need to be realistic and reasonable in our expectations as to how our traditional business structures, especially locally-owned businesses, will react in a post-COVID-19 economy.

Overtasking or expecting our insurance companies to “make everything right” for everyone in the wake of unpredictable economic catastrophe will only further damage an already damaged economy and capsize our insurance companies. While opportunists and fraudulent claims will always surface, we need to be understanding that our response to COVID-19 has to be a reasonable one that makes sense for all parties. While our government organizations and relief efforts are doing what they can to help, we cannot expect insurance companies to provide the proverbial “blank check” to fix everything.

This realism also needs to be applied to litigation and the court system, as well as our lawmakers at the state and federal level. Holding companies financially responsible when they are in the midst of responding to an ongoing and unexpected health crisis will only increase unemployment, generate more hopelessness and slow down our attempts at an economic recovery.

As someone who spends a large part of his day talking to local business leaders as they try to navigate through the current environment with COVID-19 and look forward to finding the “new normal” on the other side of this virus, all of us need to understand the reality that must be faced. These historic times call for great understanding and leniency with our neighbors who provide the products and services that we depend upon. This understanding also needs to extend to our court system and the expectations that COVID-19 falls in any way into business as usual, because it does not.

Bill Bissett, Ph. D., is the president & CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, an association of more that 550 businesses that operate in Cabell and Wayne Counties. He also serves as the chairmain of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee.

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