I want to share some thoughts about where we are and where we go from here. It’s palpable. Our region is getting “stir crazy.”

Tempers are getting short. People are stressed out like perhaps never before. If you’re one of the lucky ones who have kept you’re job, you’re bordering on exhaustion.

If you’ve lost your job, you’re rightfully scared and wondering if or when you can go back to work.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are still The United States of America. The greatest country that the world has ever known.

The global Coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll. It’s understandable. Most people have been following the stay-at-home order faithfully. Some have not.

It’s become harder as the weeks go on and on. It’s been about 6 weeks thus far, with no way to know when this will ultimately end.

And, when it does officially end, how safe will people feel to venture out, again? Many are “cheating” already. Hopefully, that’s a good sign that people want to get out and moving again.

As you know, Governor Phil Murphy approved the re-opening of state and county parks, along with golf courses.

Some parks were almost immediately shut down, again because social distancing guidelines were not being observed.

In my estimation, the re-openings were both strategic in nature and important from a psychological standpoint. By beginning to re-open parts of the state, it gives hope to people that more good news will follow soon.

It must. We have to responsibly begin the plan to re-open New Jersey. Of course, this means exercising all caution and to do it as safely as is humanly possible.

If the shutdown lasts for 4 more weeks, a significant number of businesses will close forever.

This is a highly contagious and sometimes deadly virus/disease. We’re dealing with supply chain issues. In many cases, people have been getting gouged for basic items that they need.

Nationally, we have witnessed a reported 30 million Americans file for unemployment benefits. There’s probably another 15 million people who have not yet been counted, because they can’t even get through to apply for benefits.

There have have not been this many unemployed since The Great Depression. The next publicly released numbers (this Friday) may reflect an unemployment rate in the range of 19 percent.

Unfathomable just 6 weeks ago when America had the highest work participation rate in American history, more people working then all of American history and the lowest unemployment rate in American history.

Remember, millions more unemployed are not included in this number. Meaning that the unemployment rate is really much higher than what will be reported.

Governor Murphy has ordered New Jersey Schools closed for the rest of the school year. Virtual learning will continue to be the mode of the educational delivery system.

Some have disagreed with The Governor, however, when you consider how much of the school year remains; coupled with community spread risks, the close proximity of school desks, lunch rooms and transportation issues, it was the absolute right call by The Governor.

If the virus does not abate, or, if there is a second wave, school’s will have to put a number of contingency plans together, including the possibility of more virtual learning for next year. Some parents may opt for remote learning if they don’t feel safe this September.

You can’t overstate the importance of re-opening the Atlantic City casinos. They are the region’s leading industry and most recently employed 24,000 to 27,000 employees.

Opening New Jersey and America is so important. Will people flock back to the casinos, area businesses, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and airline travel?

It will take at least two weeks to ramp-up the casinos for re-opening. A coordinated effort, (casinos and government) with excellent communication is essential.

The casinos are working feverishly to develop their re-opening plans, taking so many factors into consideration. Social distancing and so much more.

How much “risk” will people be willing to accept? Yet, if our elected officials keep our state shut-down for much longer, they will kill our economy and in essence, kill our state.

It is basically a pick your poison set of alternatives at this point. Open too soon and risk community spread and losing the progress made over the past 6 weeks. Open too late, and, we destroy many peoples lives this way.

Either of these scenarios and we lose big. The only answer is to thread the needle. Somehow find the “sweet spot,” located somewhere between total shut down and let it rip.

Also, the American people appear to have just about had it with being shut-in. Protests and demonstrations are popping-up in numerous states.

Some how, some way, we will come through this. Ultimately, we’ll be better than ever. It’s hard to see that now.

Past is prologue. We’ve been here before. The country rallied from the the 1917-1919 Spanish Flu pandemic, to shortly thereafter enjoy the “Roaring 20’s.”

Hope is not a strategy. But, let’s do it anyway. Let’s hope and pray that we begin another “Roaring 20’s” in this Century.

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