The challenges that lay ahead are no match for the will and perseverance of the American spirit. This belief has never been truer than it is today.
Today, the coronavirus is having a profound impact on our world economy, on American business and production. It is challenging the capacity of our hospital rooms, doctor’s offices, and already straining the finances of those who live paycheck-to-paycheck. It is, like the pandemics before it, threatening our nation and the social fabric of our communities as we have come to know them.
And it is at these exact times, however sad and challenging they may be, that we, Americans, come out as our best selves. I believe the coronavirus will be no different. That with this bad can come a lot of good.
The choices we make today will dictate the direction our nation takes tomorrow.
Currently, companies big and small of all industries are shifting gears to a full telework setup, they are enacting continuity business plans, they are assessing the bottom line impacts, and, more importantly, they are trying to keep their staff and families safe all while keeping the doors open and the lights on. Main Street institutions and mom-and-pop shops are going to be hit the hardest, not to mention the very real American men and women who run things behind the scenes.
That’s why it is important that everyone takes steps to help mitigate the impacts of this virus. It is more than social distancing that we need to take seriously right now. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has a part to play in making sure we get through this and that we come out better.
Already, regulators are assessing refraining from enforcing new or pending policies that will only further hurt small financial institutions such as the current expected credit loss (CECL) standard. The credit union industry, for instance, is committed to serving its communities day and night despite this pandemic, but significant relief from unnecessary policies is needed. Or these burdens will only further strain our financial ecosystem during recovery.
Likewise, businesses and communities everywhere are prioritizing the health and safety of people, encouraging everyone to work from home for the amount of time recommended by the CDC. Grocery stores are opening stores early to give at-risk older Americans a chance to shop before the crowds arrive, schools are sending kids home and helping parents by providing e-learning tools and resources from afar, and the government is working on stimulus packages to get Americans checks while extending the tax deadline to give people more time to sort through all of this.
And that’s just the tip of the macro iceberg. But it’s not just the government and companies that are responsible for helping us fight through one of the most concerning pandemics we have seen in nearly a century. It is up to each individual on the micro level to make good decisions so that our communities can come out ahead.
It has never been more important than now to stay home and wash your hands. All of us must take care of ourselves and ensure we are not possibly infecting the person next to us. We must do our part to remain as healthy as possible so that we allow the already overwhelmed doctors and nurses to treat the critically ill patients and those really in need. And, if you have change or food to spare, we must think of how we can contribute to local food pantries and organizations that are providing food and items like soap and hand sanitizer to Americans in need.
As a CEO who has been in the throes of Washington, D.C., for over two decades, it is times like these that remind me most: This is not a political issue. The coronavirus doesn’t care if you’re a democrat or a republican. Our mission right now is to do our best, to be our best, and to make the sacrifices necessary. Because, as the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
We have been down similar roads before. From SARS, to Hurricane Katrina, to the financial crisis of 2008. But Americans have always risen to the occasion and come out better on the other side. So let’s not lose sight of who we are and what we can accomplish. Let’s rise together. Because, together, we’ve got this.
Written B. Dan Berger, President and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions.
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