20 Million Businesses Are Failing and We Are Almost Too Late to Prevent It

On my recent op-ed I wrote about how the actions of political leaders in response to COVID-19 have set the stage for two thirds of small businesses to fail. In it, I explained that only a full, unrestricted coast-to-coast reopening, combined with a “Marshall Plan” aimed at small businesses can prevent this.

Every business is faced with being stuck between the “rock” revenues which have dropped by 75% typically and the “hard place” of business costs which have mainly stayed constant.

This was always going to be untenable and it is time to admit that the whole response was a mistake. As a lifelong healthcare entrepreneur, I know that patients need to be active, informed participants in any treatment plan. But when our healthcare experts warned of disaster, we instead took their warnings at face value. They warned of catastrophe if we didn’t flatten the curve, but they didn’t admit the truth about how COVID-19 was inevitably going to play out.

Look at the hospitals. Overwhelmed COVID-19 wings sat nestled in nearly silent hospitals. A friend of mine recently started chemotherapy treatment for Lymphoma. He says that without exception, the urgent care, emergency room, radiology, testing facilities and oncology offices he visited in April and May were virtually or completely empty. In fact, in the middle of the worst worldwide pandemic since the Spanish Flu, hospitals across the country are going broke from reduced demand for medical services due to the lockdown.

Much of this underutilized healthcare capacity could have been used to avoid lockdowns instead of flattening the curve. We could have shifted capacity and focused on protecting the minority of older and immunodeficient people who are at heightened risk from COVID-19.

This strategic healthcare and policy failure has come at a massive cost. We were always going to hit herd immunity before a vaccine could be widely distributed enough to make any difference. And that presumed we would find a vaccine and COVID-19 would conveniently stop evolving long enough for us to catch up.

Instead, the lockdowns have slowed herd immunity and fatally wounded the finances of tens of millions of businesses and hundreds of millions of Americans. Now, with very manageable increases in cases in a handful of states, we are again hearing calls to delay or even reverse the anemic openings that have occurred recently.

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