The good, bad and ugly in the time of coronavirus

It’s seldom been more evident there’s good, bad — and, yes, downright ugly — in the news confronting business owners and managers. A pandemic can do that.

There are those who prefer the reassurance of distinct blacks and whites. And there are occasions when that occurs. More often, news comes in nuanced shades of gray. News usually is one time good, bad and ugly.

Here in the Grand Valley, the good news is that businesses are reopening following the closures ordered to slow the spread of coronavirus. Restaurants, retail outlets and even gyms are back in operation, albeit under restrictions that still limit how many customers they can serve at a given time and impose other safety and social distancing measures.

The bad news is other businesses remain closed, among them bars and movie theaters. Events, festivals and other gatherings remain prohibited.

There’s more bad news in that even businesses that have reopened face what are arguably illogical restrictions that might apply to other operations, but not to theirs. As is usually the case, one size doesn’t fit all.

There’s good news in the way the businesses have come up with creative ways to continue providing products and services to customers despite the pandemic. Nobody is more adaptive or innovative than small business owners and managers. Technology and the internet help.

There’s even better news in the forces that have rallied to support businesses — including customers, chambers of commerce and other organizations. Businesses have been eager to help other businesses. Collaboration has always been a hallmark of the Grand Valley, but even more so in the response to the pandemic. It’s fortunate that times of trouble seem to bring out the best in most people.

The downright ugly news involves the economic fallout of the pandemic and related closures and restrictions.

The monthly unemployment rate in the United States soared more than 10 points to 14.7 percent for April even as nonfarm payrolls plummeted by more than 20 million. Those estimates peg the national jobless rate at the highest level for monthly statistics going back to 1948. The decline in employment was the largest on record. Information about the unemployment rate for Mesa County for April is scheduled for announcement May 22. But the rate for March was 6.6 percent, the highest level since in nearly four years.

Moreover, the effects of the pandemic have begun to show up in monthly tax collection reports. The City of Grand Junction reported a 10.3 percent decrease in sales and use tax collections in April compared to the same month last year. Mesa County reported a 7.1 percent decline. Since April reports reflect March sales, the May reports could prove even more grim.

It’ not yet certain to what extent the pandemic will affect the economy over the long-term because so many variables are involved. What is certain is the effect so far has been unprecedented and conditions could get worse before they get better.

The best news of all would be for a swift end to the spread of the coronavirus or quick discovery of an effective vaccine. Until that happy day, business owners and managers will continue to face good, bad and ugly news — most likely all at once.