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Updated: March 30, 2020 From the Editor

At least we’re all taking this seriously

The impact on the Central Massachusetts economy from the effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus became very real for me on the evening of March 12. I was perusing Facebook, and Amy Lynn Chase, owner of the Crompton Collective and Haberdash stores in Worcester and Hudson wrote an update saying something along the lines of, “Just letting you know how your local retailers are doing…” and posted a photo showing her sales were down 90% from the previous year.

WBJ editor Brad Kane at his desk
WBJ Editor Brad Kane

At that point, international travel already had been largely suspended and major businesses and sports leagues were shutting down, but I didn’t fully grasp how the entire local business community had turned upside down in a matter of days until Chase wrote that Facebook post. Over the last two weeks as Massachusetts has closed schools, issued stay-at-home advisories, and ultimately forced non-essential businesses to stop in-person activities, it has become abundantly clear the casualties of this effort will be the businesses and the employees in and around Central Massachusetts. Chase has a strong reputation, a unique business model and a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, so her companies may survive; but that won’t be the case for everyone.

Despite this economic pain, it is all necessary. The vast majority of people – from Gov. Charlie Baker on down to our local business leaders – understand the seriousness of this situation and are taking all the measures necessary to stem the impact of the coronavirus. Yes, the economic slowdown will hurt in the short term, but not taking these proactive measures will result in an extremely overwhelmed healthcare system and a massive loss of life. Those worst-case scenarios would have a much longer lasting impact on the local and global economies, even if you don’t take into account the emotional toll all from all that death and disease (which you should).

With Congress and President Donald Trump about to approve a $2-trillion economic relief package, our national leaders are taking this seriously, too, and providing enough of a lifeline for businesses to figure out the next steps in the coming months. Now, our focus needs to remain on stemming the spread of disease and making sure healthcare professionals have all the resources they need to help those infected by it.

This will hurt, but we’ll get through it, together.

- Brad Kane, editor

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