March 2020

Times are a changing, once again.

This year has been one of many ups and downs. In January, the place that I call home at the moment, Puerto Rico, got hit by an earthquake which took down the electric grid for weeks. Literally no power. A reminder that even if Hurricane María was 2 years ago, there’s still much to be done to improve our infrastructure.

I personally didn’t get my power back until ~14 days after the quake. This had a big impact on businesses and people all around. I believe losses where north of $100 million, which for Puerto Rico is a very large number. Some lost their homes and many businesses had to close down their doors temporarily, among other things.

February started slow, but by the second week I’d say most businesses went back to normal. At least those in San Juan, the capital and economic center. By this time, concerns were growing around this mysterious virus taking over Asia.

It was only a matter of time before the virus would reach the West. Many were sounding the alarms, but only a few were actually taking the threat seriously. Perhaps, because in the US, SARS (2002+), MERS (2015), and Ebola (2014+) were successfully contained, we thought of ourselves invulnerable.

But when March came around, Iran, Italy, Eastern Europe and others were getting infected very fast. So by the second week of March, Puerto Rico went on a lockdown.

Now we’re in the midst of the lockdown. People cannot leave their homes unless they need to buy food, essentials, or assist a loved one with a strict curfew from 9PM to 5AM, 7 days a week. Only those that can take their work home and work remotely are somewhat unscarred. The rest of the workforce, the majority, is getting hurt as fast as the virus is spreading. We can’t quantify the impact yet, but experts expect 20-30% of the population unemployed by the end of April.

I believe the government of Puerto Rico made the right call to save lives and help mitigate the spread of the deadly virus. However, strict measures like the ones implemented, come with great consequences to an already weak economy. The lockdown is having a large impact on businesses, and as a result, people.

Some businesses will see themselves strapped for cash and might have to lay-off employees or close down operations; ultimately both bad scenarios. Part-time workers, hourly workers, and students will suffer from this. The backbone of the United States will be impacted for the rest of the year. Even if we get out of this in the next few months, the damage has already been done.

My only hope is that the government acts fast and is able to help people get better and the economy to stay afloat. People need a safety net which they can use during this period until things settle down.

Our country (USA) has never been wealthier. The machine’s tank is full (banks are healthy) and the engine’s oiled up. it’s time to use the vehicle to get somewhere.