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With the COVID-19 disease continuing to spread, you and your team will be seeking additional information to help clarify the decisions that need to be made going forward.  Here are some links/resources and additional information that may prove helpful in the days and weeks ahead.
As of this morning, the Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) site is reporting a total of 1322 cases in the U.S.  Now, let’s look at some ballpark calculations to help ourselves and clients put this number into context:
  1. As of yesterday, one figure I heard reported was that, in the U.S., we have only conducted around 10,000 COVID-19 tests (and most individuals require 2 test swabs to be diagnosed) since the beginning (whereas tests conducted in China, South Korea and I believe Italy are in the hundreds of thousands.  If we accept that most of those tested were suffering more severe symptoms, and that those represent only about 20% of the total number of cases, then the actual incidence of the disease in the U.S. is actually much higher, possibly around 6600 (1322/.2).  This number would represent those that have the disease currently, as well as those that have had it and are recovering/recovered.  This figure of 6600 or so is based on only those tested so far.  Again, the number would be much higher in actuality, though most of those cases were either asymptomatic or were attributed to a bad cold or the flu.  
    1. As the rate of testing goes up, though, we can expect these numbers to spike, not because the rate of infection is necessarily increasing (though it will in the short term), but mainly because more people are being tested and receive a positive diagnosis.
  2. In Georgia, as of this morning on the AJC.com site, there are 31 active cases reported of COVID-19.  The variable, as above, is how many have been tested in Georgia. Still, probably a lower number than those having the disease.  Using the same math, then, using only those diagnosed as of this morning, would bring the approximate incidence of the disease to around 155 (31/.2) in the state.  Again, some of the individuals that have had the disease attributed it to the flu or a bad cold or never had any symptoms and are already on the road to recovery.
  3.   To give some context to this disease, yesterday,  Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court (which aligns with Angela Merkel’s statement about Germany, yesterday, with a projected infection rate of 60-70% of their population), stated, “he expects 70 million to 150 million people in the United States will become infected with COVID-19“.  According to Google this morning, the U.S. has a population of approximately 331 million people.  Dr. Monahan’s estimate (with the infection rate spread over the next 12 to 18 months, depending on social distancing efforts and other initiatives) then brings the projected incidence of the disease in the U.S. to about 22% to 46%.
  4. If we accept Dr. Monahan’s estimate to be fairly accurate, you can see that we are only in the very early stages of this pandemic.  In prior cases, pandemics usually last 1 to 2 years or so, though this is the first pandemic that originates from a coronavirus and not an influenza virus.  This is somewhat unknown territory.
  5. So, how can you best move forward in this environment and best help your business and your employees?  In my experience, having the most accurate information available, and understanding the challenges ahead to the best of my ability, help clarify the way forward.  Here are some resources for you and those you serve to consider:
    1. The Johns Hopkins site above is updated in real time throughout the day and is a helpful resource to bookmark.
    2. The AJC.com map listed above provides up to date information on the incidence and location of diagnosed individuals,
    3. The CDC has ramped up their information on COVID-19, to include how best for businesses and organizations to prepare and respond to active diagnoses.  Very helpful.
    4. As of this time, you should have a food/supply surplus at home that would allow you to navigate at least a 2 week isolation/quarantine at home.  If not, I recommend making this a priority.  The better prepared you are for that, the greater peace of mind you will have and the better able you are to assist those that are in need.
  6. In the coming weeks, some of you are going to be facing the most difficult times of your lives as the future of your business comes into question, especially related to cash flow.
    1. As of now, I have not heard of any resources available for the small business owner in the form of assistance.  There are some initiatives the President mentioned last night and that Congress is working on, but as of this morning, I don’t believe there is anything out there.
    2. As in other disaster assistance through the SBA, the funding comes in the form of a loan, not a grant.  I don’t know if this will be any different.  That remains to be seen.  We need to prepare our clients that they should be preparing for a long haul on this one and that there might be a delay in any assistance flowing down from the Federal government.  It is just the nature of the way this event is unfolding.

As additional information is obtained, we will be posting that information to our website at the Georgia SBDC website, COVID-19 page.
Until next time…

Mark Lupo, MBCP, SMP