As restrictions are being loosened on large and small businesses and public gatherings, I pray that we will be very cautious and practice even more carefully the guidelines that have been put into place. We do need to see the economy rebound, but we cannot allow the coronavirus to rebound.
COVID-19 is bringing out the best and worst in people. 43 employees at the Braskem petrochemical plant in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, clocked in on March 23rd and did not clock out for the next 28 days. Instead, they lived in the factory and pulled 12-hour shifts to meet the soaring demand for polypropylene, which is an important ingredient in protective medical masks and gowns. They produced tens of millions of pounds of this lifesaving material during their 28 days of living in the factory. They volunteered for this! One shift advisor, Joe Boise, said, “We were just happy to be able to help.”
Dr. Jason Barnes is a 39-year-old emergency room doctor in South Texas. He took up residency in his children’s backyard treehouse in order to self-isolate and has been staying there for 4 weeks in those cramped quarters to protect his patients, co-workers, and his family from coronavirus. He jokingly said that he wondered if his kids missed him as much as they miss their treehouse. Dr. Barnes said, “They love that thing, but they understand.”
It has created some adjustments that require creativity. People have learned how to cut a conversation short on video chats. The old excuse of “I have to go home and feed my dog” no longer works. New excuses have been creatively developed. Some people have learned how to quietly slip out of a group chat by using the “frozen face” technique. You “freeze” your face and body in place for a moment, to make it seem as if the WiFi has gone out, and then very carefully, off-camera, hit the end call button. I hope businesses will find employees that creative about making productive calls in the future!
The tough situation has brought out the best in some organizations. The Los Angeles Lakers received $4.6 million dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program. The Lakers are the NBA’s second most valuable franchise, worth $4.4 billion! Since they only have 300 employees, they qualified to apply. When they saw that the fund was depleted, the Lakers gave back the $4.6 million loan! Yea Lakers!
Some large businesses, such as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, AutoNation, and Shake Shack followed the Lakers lead and returned more than 170 million dollars to the program. That’s the right thing to do!
But a $2.2 billion hotel group, which owns 130 luxury resorts, was the biggest beneficiary of the PPP. They have no plans to return the $126 million dollars that they received. Just because something is legal does not make it right! There are so many small businesses in Montgomery that didn’t get any money because big companies got there first.
We did not desire the pandemic, but God can use it for something good. Moses told the children of Israel that God could take the intended curse from Balaam and turn that curse into a blessing. (Deuteronomy 23:5) He loves turning curses into blessings! And the good news is – He can do the same with COVID-19. Read Romans 8:28 and Genesis 45:1-8.
Will COVID-19 bring out the best or the worst in you?