By Sunil Singh
COVID-19 is on the rise again around the world, with the second wave of the virus potentially proving even more deadly than the initial spate of global infections.
Many countries are tightening restrictions again in a bid to get control of the virus, with France and England among the nations to have headed back into a lockdown in the last few weeks.
The United States has so far been able to avoid such national measures but, as the number of cases in America continues to grow, the prospect of a future lockdown cannot be ruled out.
Positive news about potential vaccines being ready in the coming months offers a ray of light through the dark clouds, giving people hope to carry them through what will be a tough winter.
But there is still a need to remain extremely diligent in order to keep the total number of deaths caused as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus crisis to a minimum.
Should businesses be able to reopen?
It is clear there is a tough balancing act to be tackled in the coming weeks and months.
Lockdowns are bad for the economy and can lead to increased deaths due to poverty in the long run, while the impact on mental health of such punitive restrictions cannot be understated either.
Businesses will argue that they must be allowed to continue trading, otherwise countless jobs are going to be lost. It is estimated that millions more jobs could be lost in the US over the winter unless action is taken in the form of refreshed federal aid measures for small businesses.
Some industries are on the brink of ruin. Let’s take the example of casinos, of which there are around 1,000 spread out across America. According to industry body the American Gaming Association, the sector supports close to two million jobs in the US.
Casinos had to close their doors earlier in the year due to the coronavirus crisis. Nearly 100 of them are still shut now in America, with jobs lost as a result. But brick and mortar casinos being closed has had the knock-on impact of providing a boom period for online sites in the US.
Even though online gambling is not yet legal in all US states, many people are attracted by the flexibility of being able to play casino games such as blackjack and roulette via the internet. Other benefits of gambling online include that are much more generous bonuses are available.
There, perhaps it should be accepted that landbased casinos have no place in the post-coronavirus future, but should rather move online to a regulated COVID-proof and regulated casino experience. After all, visiting a casino is unlikely to be the same anyway, with social distancing measures lessening the fun factor involved in going to such a facility on a night out.
Fresh restrictions across America
Not everyone is in favor of restrictions being introduced to try to stop the spread of the pandemic, even though around 250,000 Americans have already lost their lives to COVID-19.
In Los Angeles, however, some new measures have just come into force. These include a new 25 per cent occupancy limit for indoor businesses that are deemed to be non-essential, which includes offices and personal care services.
There is effectively a late-night curfew across LA too, with businesses such as restaurants and breweries told that they must close their doors at 10pm and not reopen them until 6am.
County public health director Barbara Ferrer explained there was a need for critical measures to be introduced in order to save lives.
“I urge our residents, businesses and community leaders to heed this warning and follow these heightened safeguards so that additional restrictions do not need to be imposed,” she said.
Biden wants coordinated coronavirus effort
Incoming president Joe Biden has told Donald Trump that they need to work together to combat COVID-19 as cases continue to rise at a startling rate across the US.
Trump has been accused of blocking a smooth transition of power even though Biden has already started to put together a team to support him when he moves into the White House.
Biden recently told reporters: “More people may die if we don’t coordinate.”
What is for certain is that the coronavirus crisis is far from over and there is a long way to go.
Even when a vaccine is ready, which might not be until well into 2021, it will take a huge effort to give it to Americans.
Diligence and caution is going to be a must over the course of the next few months.