Amid coronavirus fears, private sector steps up


By Dan McCaleb - The Center Square



Much of the country is on lockdown, whether voluntary or government ordered.

Schools are closed. Sports and entertainment venues are shuttered. Restaurants are barred from serving dine-in customers. Non-essential retail outlets are being told to shut down.

As coronavirus fears lead to unprecedented government restrictions on who can do what, private-sector businesses have stepped up to help Americans everywhere.

“We are literally being besieged in a beautiful way by companies that want to do the work and help our country,” President Donald Trump said during his daily news conference Saturday.

Workers at Walmart, Amazon and hundreds of other outlets are working around the clock to keep stocks of much-needed food and other supplies to Americans.

“In unprecedented times like these, we’re doing everything we can to serve thousands of communities across the U.S.,” Walmart said in a statement. “We’re taking preventive measures to keep our stores clean and maintain a healthy environment. We’re working to keep products stocked and prices fair. And as the largest employer in the country, we’re working to take care of our associates, too, offering a new leave policy to ensure they have the support they need.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that Tesla founder and chief engineer Elon Musk and and Apple CEO Tim Cook “working overtime” to produce ventilators and masks. Musk promised 250,000 masks and Cook committed to a million, Newsom said.

Manufacturers voluntarily dialed up production of needed equipment, including major mask suppliers like 3M.

Google launched a website that offers state-specific data as well as tips for those locked down at home.

Because of the growing number of infected, hospitals across the country have been running dangerously low on personal protective equipment, things like masks, gowns, gloves and the like.

Hospitals in New Hampshire and elsewhere have made public pleas for local businesses to donate their supplies, and they have been rolling in.

“This out-of-the-box thinking to face this crisis has resulted in tremendous support and we have been busy collecting supplies,” Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System spokeswoman Audra Burns told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

And it’s not just businesses that are stepping up. As unemployment claims rise because of the new government-mandated restrictions on businesses, individuals are doing their part, too.

In Houston last week, for example, a couple eating at Irma’s Southwest restaurant left a $1,900 cash tip on the table and a $7,500 tip on a credit card, according to CNN. The receipt said to “hold tip to pay your guys over the next few weeks.”

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By Dan McCaleb

The Center Square

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.