My experience in a coronavirus epicentre

Christiane discusses the development of the coronavirus pandemic in New York and its impact on small businesses

Over the Easter holidays, my family and I travelled to New York City. During this time I was able to see the progression and development of the coronavirus pandemic in one of the world’s largest epicentres. My father is a surgeon who works in the Upper East Side. Through his work he had medical insights into the capacity of local hospitals and what the greatest medical demands were. Though the media focus at the moment is largely on the much-discussed risk of coronavirus, there are also other diseases that need help and attention. The rate of heart attacks and other stress related diseases and illnesses have increased greatly during this period, and resources have to be managed so everyone can be looked after. As individuals, by trying to exercise, keep good hygiene and eat well we can help make sure that those who need medical help the most can receive it.

This ties into a wider problem - by protecting ourselves from coronavirus we risk generating problems elsewhere. The current method of preventing the spread of coronavirus is also part of its devastating impact. The 'cure' of staying indoors and social distancing risks destroying small businesses all over the world. It is estimated that the UK economy is going to shrink by 6.5% and the global economy by 3%. Large corporations such as Amazon are grossing greatly from this pandemic but it is our local, small businesses that are in real economic trouble. The fabric of everyday life has been destroyed by Covid-19; from restaurants to clothing stores and all in between, the guidelines have made it very difficult for these businesses to continue. Many of us may feel that the world can go on without small, independent businesses as we have large corporations that can support us. However, it is small businesses that provide innovation, it is small businesses that offer more tailored jobs and contribute the most to job growth, that promote a tighter and healthier community and that, with the right product and consumer, become the huge businesses and corporations of the future.

It may be difficult for us to envision any way to help in this matter. Coronavirus poses a serious global threat, and we must all stay home in order to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe and protect our medical services. The best we can do in this very difficult time of economic and social strain is to help our community in any way possible, to look after ourselves and shop locally to support those valued small businesses who are in great need of help. After all, it is us as individuals who can help to make all the difference.

Christiane, UIV