The COVID-19 pandemic has reached virtually every corner of our globe, impacting many members of our own community and taking thousands of American lives. It is causing a devastating impact on our economy with unemployment levels rising to historic levels. While families shelter in place, businesses restructure, and Congress works to provide resources, I feel a sense of gratitude for what I have learned about Utahns during this time.
We are a community. Social distancing has taken a toll many of us did not expect. We miss our families and friends and crave the connection—not just socially but emotionally, economically, physically, and psychologically. We are all on the same team: slowing the spread of the virus and protecting one another.
We are strong and resilient. I’ve seen and spoken with many private businesses doing all they can to keep their employees, stay in business and serve the community: implementing early shopping hours for seniors, adding take-out and delivery options, placing floor markers to ensure social distancing. Health care workers cannot be praised enough for their heroic work, and everyone else has rushed to find ways to provide them with the needed protective equipment.
We believe in each other. Silicon Slopes has wrangled all its resources to create solutions to finances, healthcare, business management. The University of Utah and many others offer free business seminars to help businesses focus on what they can control. The Utah Economic Task Force educates citizens and businesses on resources available to them during this time of need.
We are resourceful. The State Legislature will be convening later this week for a special session with a focus on providing small business relief in addition to offering aid to local governments. The Federal government has passed several relief packages; the SBA, UDSA, VA, Treasury, FEMA, and many others, are doing all they can provide much-needed assistance. I’ve also seen an explosive use of electronic technical resources to facilitate meetings for one-on-one conversations to up to thousands of people. Even the United States Supreme Court will be holding oral arguments virtually.
We rise to the occasion, no matter the circumstances. Countless business owners across our state are working hard to support families by keeping employees on their payroll, despite the challenging set of circumstances. Utah small business are making potentially risky sacrifices to ensure their loyal workforces can keep their paycheck through these uncertain times. This around-the-clock effort further illustrates the strength of our community, deeply embedded in our culture of serving one another.
We will overcome and be better for it. Contrary to how it feels, this pandemic will end, and life will return to normal. Many areas have peaked, perhaps even Utah. While not yet definitive, decreasing cases indicate that Utah may have peaked last Friday. This, coupled with an increased capacity for testing, will help us quickly and safely reopen our economy. Utah has been preparing for the end since the beginning. Remember that Utah developed “Utah Leads Together” to handle this crisis: a three-phase approach outlining the plan for the health and economic recovery of our state with a coordinated public health response, large-scale testing, and historic economic stimulus.
We have found new strength as we have worked together to overcome the effects of the virus. The recovery will not be instantaneous, but a flickering glow that will grow as we decrease social distancing in stages. Utah’s pioneer spirit and America’s rugged idealism will prevail.