Covid-19 Pandemic Response & Recovery

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As a small business owner, I am acutely aware of the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our community’s workers and businesses. We are now reaching a point where we can move toward some form of normalcy. However, this has to be done in a cautious, measured approach with guidance from health professionals so that there isn’t another spike in the COVID outbreak. Otherwise we will be back to square one and will have to go through this whole process again. I can’t think of a worse scenario. Here are my ideas for how we can move forward from this crisis: 

  • Immediate Recovery: As we move into recovery, seniors and other people at higher risk for Coronavirus have to be our foremost concern. Any secondary spike in COVID cases is going to have a bigger impact on these groups. Until we’re fully recovered, we have to maintain strict preventative measures like close monitoring of nursing homes, social distancing and mask requirements, and tiered reopening. This will help keep our community healthy and safe.
  • Plan for Life After COVID: On April 20th I called for the creation of a regional Economic Recovery Team that would coordinate all economic recovery efforts by Winnebago County, our cities, and local economic development orgs. Since then the City of Rockford has announced “Rockford Rebounding” working groups to focus on economic recovery, but no other government or group has announced a similar effort. While that is a positive step, I still think we need regional coordination to be in the best position for a full recovery. The last thing I want is for different cities, the county, and organizations to be duplicating efforts or wasting resources that could be helping people. You can read more about my proposal here. 
  • Write a New Plan: Our ultimate goal as we move through this recovery has to be writing the playbook for the next global pandemic. This needs to happen at the local and state levels. Locally we need to work with the Chamber of Commerce and other groups to classify businesses according to risk from a pandemic so that we can prioritize economic support in case of a future pandemic or similar emergency. At the state level we have to work with epidemiologists and other experts to codify metrics for what a pandemic is, and thresholds for actions like shelter-in-place that are backed by hard data. That will cut down on the confusion and panic that defined the first few weeks of this pandemic.