As summer starts to wind to a close, it’s hard to believe that it’s been six months since COVID-19 changed everything. Alaskans all over the state are still trying to adjust to the “new normal” and are wondering what the upcoming school year will mean for students and parents alike. Congress is working to try and pass another round of desperately needed relief aid but is stuck over issues like unemployment benefits, liability protections, and funding for states.
Meanwhile, the state’s Alaska CARES program has launched a new application portal and is processing funding requests at a fast pace while local governments are deploying millions of dollars of their own CARES funding to businesses and individuals as well. Businesses have gotten over their initial shock at how bad things were and have started to find ways to pivot to survive. Outdoor dining, new product development, online sales, and other tactics are helping to keep them alive until more help arrives.
Federal unemployment benefits and eviction protections that were added in the Family First and CARES Acts ended last month along with the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL Advance program this month and economists are still waiting to see what the impacts of that will be. Needless to say, it’s not expected to be good. There is some hope that state and local governments will be able to, at least in the short term, mitigate those impacts until more federal funding comes through.
It’s easy to find yourself asking, in the face of all of this uncertainty and change, what can we do? It’s my firm belief that now more than ever it’s important to develop a plan. For individuals, for businesses, for governments, the need to make sure you’re looking beyond the crisis in front of you to what’s going to happen down the road is imperative if you want to position yourself for success in the future. What does recovery look like? Where are the opportunities? What are the longer-term threats we need to start trying to address now?
No one can live in a constant state of uncertainty and crisis. At some point, we all need to take a deep breath and figure out what we need to do to move forward. Together we can find a way to get through this, but it’s going to take all of us working together to make it happen. Fortunately for us, you don’t last long in Alaska if you’re not up for dealing with a few challenges and hardships. You also tend to learn the value of things like community and collaboration. That’s why there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to make it through this better than most.