At press time, COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is pummeling the U.S. economy. Local, state and federally mandated safety measures asking people to stay at home have resulted in widespread shutdowns and layoffs across the economic spectrum. More than $2 trillion has been approved by the federal government to support small, medium, and large businesses as they struggle to stay in business. China seems to be slowly recovering, while the rest of the world wrestles with the escalation of the disease, overwhelmed hospitals, and increasing concerns about economic rebound once the pandemic has passed. It is difficult to predict where we will be when this edition of Hardwood Floors goes to print. Hopefully, the road to recovery will be clear at that point.
The coronavirus crisis has been illuminating in several ways, at least from our view in Washington, D.C. First, it is heartening to see and hear about the extraordinary kindness people are capable of in times of distress. From health providers and emergency workers on the front line, to neighbors
gathering groceries and supplies for the housebound, so many are rising
to the occasion. I am confident the men and women of the hardwood industry are in this category.
From the political side, it is interesting to observe that when the government wants to act quickly at the local, state, or federal level, it can and will. Congress passed, and the president signed, three assistance bills between March 3 and March 27, totaling more than $2.1 trillion dollars.
Federal departments and agencies scrambled (and are probably still
scrambling) to issue guidance and set up delivery mechanisms in
record time. This is not to say that election year sniping isn’t ongoing,
but it has not stood in the way of action being taken in a generally bipartisan manner. Whatever your position is on these measures, it is hard to deny the country got a quick lesson in the legislative process and the ability of Congress to work together when under pressure.
Local and state governments also have acted, some more swiftly than others. Again, this can be viewed as a civics lesson about how our country operates as a federation, with governors utilizing their powers and authorities in a way the public is not used to seeing. The best example of
this being the various ways states imposed stay-at-home orders, restricted travel, and determined which businesses are essential.
This has been an extremely busy time for the Hardwood Federation team, and for the staffs of our member associations, including the NWFA. Keeping up with the latest news, relief measures, and federal and state emergency
guidance statements can be a challenge during normal times. But layering on a world-wide health and economic crisis ups the ante and makes it even more important that we are engaged with decision-makers, tuned into breaking news, and quick to share what we know with our members. It is
times like these that we, as an association representing you, your company, and your employees, must be at our best and deliver the most important and accurate information possible as soon as we can. We must also do our very best to share your experience, concerns, and frustrations with those at the federal level who can make a difference.
Our goal at the Hardwood Federation is always to go beyond your expectations as a member of the hardwood industry community. These extraordinary times may make that job a bit harder, but we remain committed and enthusiastic about doing our part on your behalf. I know the NWFA team is working just as hard, and we appreciate their partnership.
We will continue our efforts here in D.C., and hopefully, our next column will be reflective of a return to normal. In the meantime, we hope you and yours are well and safe.