MKE Health & Economy: Mark Kass, Milwaukee Business Journal

Mark Kass, editor of the Milwaukee Business Journal, related what he has been hearing from businesses and subscribers:

  • Everyone has been shocked by speed and impact of this crisis – it hit them fast and hard.
  • Many lost 80-90% of revenue over one weekend.
  • He’s also seen creativity – people are trying new things and are being successful. One example is Sanford, one of Milwaukee’s most celebrated restaurants, which initially closed but has re-opened and is now offering takeout dinners for 4 for $60-80.
  • Greg Marcus has said he expects to open theaters that will only be half full at first.
  • Most businesses realize that if they open too soon and then need to close again because of a second spike in infections, that would be worse than waiting.
  • It will take time to restock and retrain employees – we must be at a point for the relaxation of restrictions to last.

According to Dr. John Raymond, President and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, daily growth rates and doubling rates of COVID-19 continue to track in a positive trajectory. The critical question remains whether this pace will prevent overwhelming our region’s health care systems.

  • The next week is crucial and more data, now becoming available, is needed to better understand surge capacity.
  • Health systems in our area have done a tremendous job of increasing capacity, but those shifts are creating strain on beds for other needs.
  • Pursuing “herd immunity” as a strategy to re-start the economy is not recommended. Without sufficient testing we do not know who has had the disease; we do not yet understand how long a person is immune; and left unchecked, large percentages of the population would become ill, with high mortality rates, and overwhelm hospitals.
  • As we move into next week and beyond, we will begin to address when and how to relax social distancing.