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Let’s brace for long road to recovery

A front-page Mirror article on July 29 provided a lengthy account of fears being harbored by owners of bars and eateries stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the restrictions imposed by the state in an effort to get the coronavirus situation under control.

Many of those business establishments — many small and many of larger sizes — wonder whether they will survive the health onslaught currently gripping the nation.

Obviously, their concerns are justified, and there always will be room for second-guessing regarding the national and state governmental decisions made and those yet to come.

However, as most Americans realize, deep uneasiness extends well beyond restaurants, bars and other similar establishments, and new data from an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll details the scope of those worries.

As an AP article in the Mirror’s July 25-26 edition reported, 47 percent of Americans whose families experienced a layoff during the COVID-19 pandemic now believe those jobs definitely or probably are gone forever.

Adding to the challenge, the story said, “Many students will begin the school year online, making it harder for parents to take jobs outside their homes.”

Contrast that with the thinking of just three or four months ago when 78 percent of those in households with a job loss thought that unemployment would be temporary.

Now, many businesses and households are facing the realization that they have not yet witnessed the worst of their pandemic-related financial challenges. And, as people in the Southern Alleghenies region understand vividly, this part of Pennsylvania is only a small dot in the much bigger negative picture statewide and nationally.

“U.S. is trailing Europe in economic recovery” was the headline of an article in the Wall Street Journal’s July 25-26 edition.

The Journal article said the divergence between the U.S. and Europe suggests that European countries could be benefiting from the strict lockdowns they pursued in the spring, as well as current policies regarding wearing of face masks, social distancing and bans on large gatherings.

“Most European countries are seeing just several hundred cases of new infections a day, compared with several thousand at the peak of the crisis,” the article said. “In contrast, the surge in infections in the U.S. — which has recorded more than a quarter of worldwide cases — is holding the recovery back.”

Output in the U.S. service sector shrank for the sixth consecutive month in July as companies faced a wave of COVID-19 cases that prompted new restrictions in a number of states.

The past month has shown, even in the Southern Alleghenies region, where new cases continue to crop up, that COVID-19 is an enemy that is not near to being conquered.

The Journal article, which was based on fresh surveys of purchasing managers, indicated that the surveys’ findings were more pessimistic than what had been expected.

Meanwhile, the Mirror’s reporting has confirmed the fears and pessimism — as well as whatever similar adjective people here want to use to describe the situation — encompassing what the region currently is experiencing.

This region is working hard to recover, but it is clear the road ahead will be long and difficult.

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