Over 15 months ago I interviewed Long Island business owners and executives about how they were coping with the lock downs and the effect on their organizations. Published as the COVID Chronicles, they expounded on the impact to their internal and external business processes.
Fast forward to today. Our brief respite from unmasking and resuming a normal life appears to be in jeopardy due to the emergence of the Delta variant and the even newer Delta-plus. Neither I nor the executives I contacted are scientists or policymakers, but with the severity of the damage to the economy and businesses, I asked for their opinions on the new indicators.
The Delta variants present a different set of circumstances than the COVID-19 virus did at the beginning of 2020. More than half of the population has been vaccinated and government is pushing hard for the rest to follow. Vaccination is said to be the real defense against COVID-19 and the Delta mutation.
The question remains, is the Delta variant less, equal to, or more dangerous. Tom Lowenberg of Fuller Lowenberg CPAs voiced what was almost unanimous among those questioned, “It is greater for the unvaccinated and not as serious for those vaccinated,” adding that if, in fact, deep restrictions on business were implemented the problem would be that the vast amounts of PPP funding have already been distributed and depleted. Any additional funding would cause long-term economic problems.
The view of possible CDC guidelines was split. Dr. Ronald Stair, CEO of Creative Design Plans, a retirement plan advisory, says that he believes new restrictions are probable. “The impact on society will affect what happens in businesses,” he said. Dr. Nick Fitterman, president of Huntington Hospital, believes that if restrictions and lock downs occur, they should be narrowly focused on low vaccinated areas experiencing an increase in new cases, suggesting restrictions by town or by zip code based on real time statistics. Others were adamant that a return to the old mandates would be disastrous to society and the economy’s ability to function with any level of strength. Sal Ferro, CEO of Alure Home Improvements and Fusion Commercial Contracting says, “Customer confidence will shrink, and new business will dwindle.” However, he is confident that we will not be forced into draconian measures, “We are hovering at 60 to 80% adult vaccinations and 47 to 60% overall depending on town.”
George Likourezos, Partner at Carter, DeLuca & Farrell, an Intellectual Property law firm says that his practice will not suffer since they learned how to be remote and still provide clients with the service needed. He did, however, have advice for fellow business owners because of the contagiousness of Delta. “This will lead to an increase in hospitalization and deaths into the late Summer and Fall if strict CDC guidelines are not imposed again and businesses do not enact restrictions, such as wearing masks.”
Joe Saggio, CEO of Flexible Systems, a managed IT provider, is not in favor of new restrictions because, “They would be very destructive and kill the economy.” He is fearful that at least some, perhaps many, of his clients could go out of business.
America has been at war with COVID-19 for over 18-months and now it seems that the variants are here almost as reinforcements, and we must use every resource available to defeat the enemy. We know how to do that. During World War II, we used rationing, personal sacrifice, and individual generosity to support the war effort. Looking past all the rhetoric, the confusing messaging from CDC and Washington, we must arrive at a set of absolutes that we can stand behind and support. It is upon leadership and science to come together. It is up to individuals to understand their obligation to the rest of the country, make a right decision, and be in the fight.
The advice from the executives is get the vaccine or wear masks. It is the least you can do. To the vaccinated, they extend their thanks.
The author, Greg Demetriou is the CEO of the integrated marketing agency, Lorraine Gregory Communications, the founder and host of the interview series Ask A CEO podcast. He can be contacted at [email protected]