The coronavirus has already killed many people and more will die. But will we sacrifice America's small business community in the fight to defeat the virus?

The government has ordered millions of small businesses across the country to close or to operate under severe restrictions, forcing business owners to layoff employees or find a way to continue to pay them while they remain idle. Many of those who could not afford to retain their laid-off workers have watched them be lured away by larger companies and distributions centers that are in dire need of help as demand for their services increase.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many small business owners, reaping the benefits of the booming economy and reduced tax burden, invested heavily in their businesses, allowing them to expand and grow and take on new employees. The struggle is real as these small business owners now try to figure out how to manage this new debt at the same time they watch their receipts dry up under government mandates to close or limit their operations.

President Trump has said, "we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem," a sentiment shared by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and others who are concerned about the impact a prolonged shutdown will have on the nation's economy.

And they are right to be concerned.

The small business community provides jobs and contributes to the tax coffers of communities all over the country. Small businesses sponsor kid's baseball teams and make charitable contributions to the local communities they serve. Small business owners are our neighbors, our family, and our friends.

The economic impact of this crisis could be far worse than the virus itself. We must rethink our policies for dealing with the coronavirus in a way that addresses the medical needs of our society without destroying our small business community in the process.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app