Tag Archives: coronavirus

Pushing through today’s ‘red-light-green-light’ business jam

Business was great. The economy was humming. Sales were at all-time highs. Then the pandemic hit.

“Our business pretty much dropped 80 percent across the board,” said Dave Anderson, president of Brand RPM, a Charlotte-based company that produces apparel and merchandise for corporations and athletic teams. 

In late March, most of the nation’s governors issued stay-at-home orders, and mandated all businesses deemed “nonessential” to shut down in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which by early June had already killed more than 110,000 Americans.

The shutdowns and social-distancing protocols arguably saved lives and prevented numerous hospital intensive care units from being overrun with COVID-19 patients. But those measures have come at a steep cost. 

More than 21 million people in the United States were still out of work in early June. The national unemployment rose to about 13 percent by late May, a figure not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The country has been officially in recession – since February – and businesses are struggling. Some may not recover.

While weathering the economic storm, some business leaders have deftly adapted their companies to the new reality, repositioning their organizations for growth and charting new paths for a post-pandemic future. Legatus magazine spoke with two Legates who lead companies, one small and one large, to see how the pandemic has changed those businesses, both in the short-term and over the long haul.

Furloughs, pay cuts, new offerings

 Anderson, the president of Legatus’ Charlotte Chapter, said the first three months of 2020 were “the biggest months” ever for his company of 110 full-time staff employees. But as the pandemic hit the United States in earnest, Anderson knew he had to act quickly.

 “The first thing we did was furlough 10 percent of our staff,” said Anderson, who added that everyone else in the company took a 50-percent pay cut. Those moves helped to prevent layoffs.

 Anderson and his team also examined their cash flow and consulted computer models to see what they could expect with the virus-ravaged economy over the next six to nine months.

 “As a small business, if you don’t have cash, you’re out of business,” Anderson said.

 Brand RPM pivoted from its core apparel and branded merchandise business to becoming a large provider of personal protective equipment – face coverings, hand sanitizers, gloves, and disinfectant wipes – to companies such as Lowe’s, which purchased two million masks in April.

 “Funny enough, we had our largest revenue month in our company’s entire 12-year history in April,” Anderson said. “And probably 90 percent of it, I never touched; I just droppedshipped masks from the suppliers to the customers.” 

Anderson said Brand RPM is looking to be a reliable source of “PPE” for companies as they reopen across the country amid their states’ loosening restrictions. Anderson expects the demand for masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves to be steady over the next year to 18 months.

 “We think our overall numbers for the second half of the year won’t be what they were in the past, but we hope that with the pivot to PPE, it’ll help us make up some of the lost ground,” said Anderson, who has already started to bring back some of the furloughed staff employees full time.

 Working from home … works

 One lasting effect that Anderson expects the pandemic to have will be more companies such as Brand RPM encouraging their employees to work from home.

“We were already doing teleconferencing and videoconferencing,” Anderson said. “I think that will be a more common theme moving forward as more companies see that working from home really works.”

By mid-October, Anderson hopes his company will have regained its equilibrium, though he added that “everything is a moving target.”

In the meantime, he has found a valuable resource in his fellow Legates and other CEOs with whom he can bounce off ideas and ask questions. 

“We’re all in this together,” Anderson said.

 From millions monthly, to zero

Pat Molyneaux grew his fourth-generation family flooring business, Molyneaux, into a thriving enterprise with 12 locations in Pennsylvania. But within a week of his state shutting down from coronavirus, Molyneaux suddenly had to lay off 95 percent of his employees.

“We went from making close to $2 million a month in revenue to zero,” said Molyneaux, a founding member of Legatus’ Pittsburgh Chapter.

“We grew this business in my 30 years here… and overnight it’s taken away,” Molyneaux said.

But that reality sparked a conversion of sorts as Molyneaux began to see that he had made the family business into an idol. Having a strong balance sheet and a successful enterprise had become the most important things in his life.

 For Molyneaux, that epiphany cast the first ten verses of 2 Corinthians 12 into sharper focus. In those verses, St. Paul speaks of being given a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble, and how God’s power is made perfect in someone’s weaknesses.

 “For a co-owner and member of the executive team, that is the verse for these times,” Molyneaux said. “Whether it’s as a pastor, a bishop, or whether it’s as a C-level executive, how can we become both strong and weak?”

 Molyneaux identifies strength as having the capacity for meaningful impact, and weakness as vulnerability.

 Grace makes business stronger

“After I repented and hit that point of deeper conversion,” Molyneaux said, “I feel like the Lord was opening my mind and giving me the grace of more creativity around what we needed to do to use this opportunity to make the business stronger. I feel like that was a grace.” 

Molyneaux said his company has started to change its primary business model from showrooms in brick-and mortar buildings to a “shop from home” approach where a design consultant visits the customer at home. 

“That’s the way the industry is going. People want that convenience. Most of our shopat-home appointments are through the roof this month,” said Molyneaux, who added that in-store appointments were already on the decline but that the pandemic accelerated that trend. 

Molyneaux said this year also provided an opportunity for his company to move into kitchen remodeling. Those changes may not have been possible before quarantines and social distancing forced him to reexamine his approach to business.

“As human beings, idol worship is a real temptation,” Molyneaux said. “I think often our businesses, what we accumulate through our businesses, can become idols. The rhythms and processes of work can become idols. This gave us a chance to expose those idols.”

 BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

COVID vaccines raise worry over life and liberty protection

As Independence Day arrives in this year of the coronavirus, we begin to taste again the basic freedom of personal interaction with friends, family, colleagues, and with our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. Yet as public health restrictions are cautiously eased, a question of life and liberty looms on the horizon: the COVID-19 vaccination.

We should certainly welcome rapid and widespread access to an adequately tested, safe, and effective vaccine, but it is easier said than done. Some major ethical concerns include the use of abortion-derived human fetal cell lines in development, restrictions on proper consent, and disproportionate government intervention.

Abortion-derived human fetal cell lines should not be used in the production of any vaccine. The Catholic Church affirmed this in the instruction Dignitas Personae. Only a handful of the COVID-19 vaccines in development make use of these lines, so there is a hope that a morally sound candidate will be successful. Regardless, we are called to give witness to the dignity of human life by demanding that new vaccines have no ties to abortion.

At the same time, Dignitas personae clarifies that end users are permitted to seek and receive immunizations of immoral origin when there are gravely proportionate reasons — including serious risks to personal or public health — with no better alternative available. Some may refuse vaccination to give special witness to the dignity of unborn children, while others at high risk might opt to safeguard personal and community health by pursuing vaccination.

Origins aside, vaccination decisions demand consideration of the facts to make an informed judgment. With any treatment, a person has the right to know the expected benefits and burdens. Will the vaccine have an effectiveness rate of 80 percent or 25 percent? How extensive was the testing to rule out adverse side effects? Population health benefits do not automatically create obligations for individuals. The decisions remain personal, accounting for circumstances. Risks, including possible adverse side effects, must not be obscured.

A concern with fast-tracked vaccines is the reliability of information concerning effectiveness and risks, the very facts essential to informed consent. Experimental vaccines for coronaviruses in years past have never been approved; a COVID-19 vaccine would be a first for this whole family of viruses. Efforts by health care professionals, pharmaceutical companies, government, and media to push the vaccine by ignoring or vilifying those with reasonable misgivings will weaken an already-waning public trust in vaccination practices. Integrity and transparency about the methods, quality, and conclusions of the research are crucial. This includes clear admissions of what we simply do not know, identification of expected benefits and risks, discussion of the certitude of expectations, and respect for individual judgments.

Government overreach is another major ethical issue. The principle of subsidiarity is a fundamental precept of Catholic social teaching: matters should be handled at the most local level possible, with higher levels offering supportive intervention only when truly necessary. Given the varied ways COVID-19 impacts different regions, a vaccine mandate from federal or state governments would be too blunt an instrument. This would feed a lack of public trust. In a similar vein, proposals for contact tracing or vaccination “chips” raise profound privacy concerns, further erode public trust, and can even sow mistrust within communities.

Government has a rightful interest in protecting the public from widespread and serious illness. Yet when it comes to concrete vaccination decisions, human dignity demands witness to the value of life, provision of adequate and reliable information, freedom of conscience, protection of privacy, and prioritization of more local government over higher levels. Anything less jeopardizes life and liberty.

JOHN A. DiCAMILLO, PH.D., B e.L., is a staff ethicist at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. He earned his graduate degrees at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome. He lives in Lancaster County, PA, with his lovely wife Serena and their children.

Staying ahead of the [flattened] curve

The nation emerges slowly from crisis mode, but it won’t yet be business-as-usual.

As society gradually reopens following the lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, things simply won’t be the same for a while. Even as states and municipalities progress through the phases of loosening social restrictions, the possibility of a second infection wave calls for caution. There has been talk of a “new normal” affecting businesses, schools, institutions, and even how we interact with one another.

Two Legates — one a health care executive, the other recently retired from the restaurant business — recently shared their perspectives on the pandemic. Here’s what they had to say about their experiences, their reliance on faith, and how this crisis could change the industries they know best and even society itself.

PRESIDENT AND PATIENT

Michael Maron, a Legate of the Newark Chapter, is president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, NJ, a suburb of the New York metropolitan area. As the novel coronavirus pandemic escalated in the region, he became one of its patients. Infected with the SARS-CoV2 virus, he was diagnosed with COVID-19, the now-familiar disease it causes.

Maron initially dismissed his fatigue as the effects of stress and overwork in the midst of the crisis. Even as his family entered self-quarantine, he planned to work from home through videoconferencing and other technology, figuring he’d be back in a couple of days. “I was wrong,” he said.

Soon his condition worsened, and his wife’s health deteriorated as well.

“I never presented with the early dominant symptoms, fever and respiratory distress,” Maron recalled. “Fatigue, loss of taste, chills, gastrointestinal issues were my main symptoms.” Still, he came to appreciate just how serious the virus was. “My confidence in my Superman DNA gave way to concern and worry that both my wife and I were now that much closer to the possibility of being hospitalized and intubated in an ICU,” he confessed.

Perhaps worst of all, his initial denial gave way to remorse, sadness, worry, and guilt at having brought the virus home with him.

Not surprisingly, he turned to his Catholic faith.

“I prayed often for strength, for the ability to overcome the virus,” he said. “I prayed for wisdom and humility, because I knew my own arrogance caused harm to my family.” He was guided by the words of the prophet Micah: This is what God asks of you: to act justly, to love tenderly, to walk humbly with your God.

Less than two weeks later — after a regimen of hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and hydration — he was back at work, shepherding the Holy Name health system through the continuing pandemic.

Maron underlined the seriousness of COVID-19 by pointing out some of the unprecedented ways hospitals have responded to the influx of critically ill patients: rapid construction of new intensive-care units (ICUs), tapping into strategic stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE), and renting refrigerator trucks to expand morgue capacity. Holy Name itself expanded its ICU from 20 to 120 beds, converting an auditorium for ICU use in just seven days.

“There is a long litany of 100-year ‘firsts’ in health care delivery this crisis created,” he said.

THREAT REQUIRES SACRIFICE

Having firsthand experience both as a patient and as a health care executive in the hardest-hit region of the United States, Maron stresses the seriousness of the pandemic.

“This virus is highly contagious, and this virus is very deadly,” he warned. “Any statistical manipulation to minimize these facts is grossly irresponsible and will lead to more casualties in the years to come. Any public messaging that suggests otherwise and leads to careless behavior is equally irresponsible.”

The only intervention presently available to us to mitigate the spread of this virus is social distancing and isolation, he pointed out.

“We do not know for certain what the contagious period of the virus is, its incubation period, how it is transmitted, what symptoms are most identifying of the presence of the virus,” he explained. “Knowing only that it is transmitted person to person leaves physically separating of people as the only means to slow the spread of the virus.”

We’ve succeeded in “flattening the curve” to take the stress off our health care systems, and “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved,” Maron said. That’s all due to sacrifice, he added — of leaders making the unpopular decisions to shut down society, of the economy itself, and of individuals who comply with public health recommendations.

SOCIETAL LESSONS

While the scientific data will eventually enable us to understand COVID-19 more thoroughly, “the unprecedented circumstances we’re living through might also teach us some profound lessons about ourselves,” Maron said.

“The health care industry will be learning from this crisis for decades to come. Improving our surveillance systems, our response capabilities and our moral and ethical obligation,” he said. “We have demonstrated that we are far more effective when we cooperate rather than compete, when we innovate and accept responsibility to respond and execute in creative ways.”

For humanity in general, the pandemic — which knows no borders and attacks across all races, religion, ethnicities, economic classes, and other lines of division — reminds us of our commonality.

“The irony is that the enforced social distancing keeping us apart has also made us more keenly aware of how inextricably linked we are as a human family,” Maron said. “The process of containing the virus has hopefully opened our eyes to the precious bonds that exist between us and the care and nurturing these relationships need along life’s journey.”

“We are all in this together,” he said.

HEALTHY IN BODY AND FAITH

Longtime restaurateur Joe Micatrotto Sr. resides far from the pandemic’s hotbed states of New York and New Jersey. The Las Vegas Legate said his extended family has not been affected, and he personally knows only one person who has contracted COVID-19.

“We have very few health concerns provided we keep some simple precautions,” he said, adding that “the health professionals ‘on the ground’ have been magnificent.” He praised President Trump’s handling of the crisis but had harsh words for the mainstream media and their priorities. “I wish the media cared for the killing of millions of babies in the womb as much as they do reporting deaths from a virus, which grotesquely pales in comparison,” said Micatrotto.

It’s been a trial from a faith standpoint, accustomed as he is to attending daily Mass, he said. Watching daily Masses online and assisting at his own parish’s livestreamed liturgies has been helpful. On the more positive side, he and his wife, Constance, have “really kicked up” their daily shared prayer in the absence of parish life. “We stay in regular communication with our priests, and spiritual communion is more than once a day!” said Micatrotto. “Prayer life has never required a building. Truly, we are ‘temples of the Holy Spirit.’”

His family’s Micatrotto Restaurant Group sold its portfolio of 40 Raising Canes restaurants back to the chain’s founder months before the COVID-19 crisis erupted, which “may have seemed providential,” he said. But he believes the chain will survive the pandemic.

“While sales are obviously impacted, [customers] have been stacked in line for the drive thru, and not one employee was let go because of the virus,” he said. “Surely, while revenues are down, the goodwill and character of the Raising Canes team has never been greater.”

ADAPT TO SURVIVE

The COVID-19 crisis will change the restaurant business, he explained, but the key lesson — gleaned also from his own long tenure in the restaurant industry — is adaptability.

“Anyone who says they were or are prepared for this pandemic needs to hope the confessional opens fast,” said Micatrotto. Even now, “Everything you write and believe needs ‘whiteout’ because it may change in coming months. Change happens at speeds like the rotation of the earth: we do not see or feel the rapidity of change, so accept it with a mind to adapt.”

Micatrotto, founder of the Buca di Beppo restaurants, offered the example of how he moved his family business from full-service restaurants to the “fast casual” establishments. “Americans wanted great food, but wanted the flexibility to dine with it as they wished,” he said. “Adaptability does not mean you lose your heart or character; rather, you take that which you make or love and put it into a format that allows for many and varied applications.”

To restaurant industry executives and workers struggling through the present crisis, he proposes two general bits of advice: Treat the guest as if he is always right, and focus on service.

“If you do not like being a servant,” he suggested, “get out now, since being in service is who and what we are in this business.”

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine editorial consultant.


LOVE IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC

John D. Rockefeller Jr. wrote as part of the Rockefeller Creed:

“I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.”

I have no doubt the power of the human soul has been set free from the fires of sacrifice that have burned so large and so bright over the last several months. It is one of my hopes coming out of this crisis that the prevalence of selfish, egocentric, and narcissistic behavior that has become the norm in our modern world will start to yield to the love of neighbor, humility, and altruistic character that better defines who God intended us to be.

If there’s an unearned blessing in this tragedy, it is the opportunity to better understand not only our physical similarities but our true heritage as living souls. We are spiritual beings — equally valued by a loving Creator — and here to fulfill a sacred purpose on earth.

— Michael Maron

When summer vacation begins in March

For Legate Kevin Kelly, Ohio’s recent coronavirus stay-at-home orders were less of an imposition and more of a joy.

Two of his eight children came home from college, joining two of their younger siblings, and overall, Kelly said, everyone liked having extra “hang-out” time. They watched movies, prayed the rosary together and on Sundays, gathered in one spot for a live-streamed Mass, something Kelly seized as an opportunity to talk about the Mass and its meaning in their lives.

Although state-enforced sheltering-in orders have been stressful for many households, for families whose lives are informed by the Catholic faith, increased togetherness has often been more blessing than blight.

Some enjoy, others not so much. “It feels a little awkward saying it, but we’ve actually enjoyed it,” said Dr. Christopher Stroud, a Legate whose household includes his mother and mother-in-law plus five children between 11 and 22. “It’s been like an extended spring break or extended Christmas vacation.” During the shutdown, they selected movies for everyone to view, played board games, and had long discussions, discovering a greater sense of closeness, interdependency, and solidarity.

Still, not everyone shares that experience. Higher rates of some kinds of domestic violence, child abuse, and suicide were reported amid the sheltering-in restrictions, according to Dr. Susan Hatters Friedman, a professor of forensic psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University, writing in the New York Daily News. In addition, a FoxBusiness report said attorneys were seeing an increase in divorce inquiries with one lawyer predicting the quarantines could hasten divorces for marriages on the brink.

Greg Schlueter, who leads a family-focused ministry known as Mass Impact, said even among Catholic parents, social media postings indicated that not all took delight in having more time with their children. For him, that revealed a crisis at the heart of the crisis. “Too many of us ‘good Catholic parents’ have delegated our unsurpassed, irreplaceable appointing and anointing. Too many of us are languishing without knowing and embracing God’s vision for our marriages, families, and homes.”

Reorienting responsibility. Schlueter, a father of six, has tried looking upon the coronavirus restrictions as an occasion for families to more fully recognize and rely upon Christ, and for parents to reclaim responsibilty often consigned to churches and schools. “It’s almost as if God reached into our activity-addicted, spaz-fest culture of delegated parenthood and said, ‘Stop!’ Or rather, with regard to rediscovering and living in our God-designed nature: ‘Start!’”

Through its “I Love My Family” program, Schlueter’s ministry encourages families to dedicate weekly time to meaningful conversation and prayer, making their homes places of ever-deepening encounter with Christ.

The ministry provides a “Live IT Gathering Guide,” available free online, and can be used to discuss and pray over the Sunday Mass readings. The guide includes an outline with prayers and questions for strengthening family relationships. It is coordinated with a “Family Road Trip” radio broadcast on which several families discuss their own experiences with weekly “Live IT” meetings. “I Love My Family” also offers in-person meetings for groups of couples and families, but with those suspended during the coronavirus restrictions, some groups have met on Zoom and the ministry has aired an interactive Parental Pow-Wow on Facebook and YouTube.

Schlueter said many families who start “Live IT” gatherings in their homes previously had some practice of formal family prayer, such as the rosary, but not a way to engage in meaningful, relational encounters with each other. When they overcome the initial awkwardness, he said families often experience transformation.

Kelly noted that although his family has not incorporated “Live IT” into their prayer times, he has seen its fruit in other families and in one of his own sons, who went through a period of not relating to his faith. Through participation in a “Live IT” youth gathering, “He became really alive in his faith and learned it.”

Boosting communication. Steve Findley, whose family used “Live IT” for about six years, said their communication improved to such a degree that he can’t imagine what sheltering-in with six children from 6 to 20 would have been like without it.

His wife, Lorna, noticed very few challenges during the stay-at-home restrictions. “I think our ability to handle this and be happy in it is largely due to the amount of communication we have in our prayer life and faith. Having that focus makes all the difference.”

Their family has learned to open up and discuss their struggles through the weekly “Live IT” gatherings, which provide opportunities to affirm, seek forgiveness, and to pray with and ask for prayer from each other. Sharing and discussing a problem with the family, she said, lightens the burden for those who are struggling. “Being a bigger family, it’s always a noisy challenge because everyone wants to talk at the same time, but it’s great to be able to communicate and respect each other.” Because of the gatherings, Lorna said, “Without a doubt, our faith, our marriage, and everything across the board has grown.”

Even though she initially was uncertain about the effect that sheltering-in would have, she found the result has been something of an answer to prayer. “The way God can do good through hard things is so evident . . . Really, very quickly, the good fruit of it was abundantly obvious from the get-go.”

Schlueter said “Live IT” participants like the Findleys have embraced the coronavirus circumstances as a way to spend meaningful time together, recalibrate who they are, and go deeper into their souls, marriages, and families.

Purifying priorities. Liz Erickson, whose family is part of the “Live IT” ministry, said sheltering-in has given her and her husband, Walt, more quality time. They have been praying together more as a couple, and with their six children. This has extended to her parents, siblings, and their families, who have begun praying the rosary together on Zoom every Sunday. “That was not happening before,” she said.

Stroud, an obstetrician/gynecologist, said he has heard many stories like his own of families who are seeing the benefit of slowing down and being at home during the coronavirus restrictions. At his Legatus men’s forum recently, he said one of the questions the members considered was “what will you do differently post-pandemic?” “A lot said they were going to try to be less busy and savor going to Mass more. It was kind of a universal response and I would certainly echo that. Why did we need an international pandemic to tell people to slow down and be less scheduled?”

He sees the stay-at-home orders as a good time to learn to love people for what makes them unique. “Sometimes the things that make a family member unique can get under your skin. It’s a good time to thank God for their uniqueness, and a good time to reflect on how we have to love each other, and that it’s not always rainbows and daffodils.”

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer

Unstoppable gift of faith spawns bold witness

The theme for this month’s magazine, “Studying and Living the Faith,” comes straight from our mission statement: “To study, live, and spread the Catholic faith in our business, professional, and personal lives.” Studying and living the Faith is at the very heart of who we are as Legatus members. How we practically implement this can be explored in a variety of ways, but I think it is safe to say that the most applicable scenario now is not one that anyone imagined just a few short months ago.

Stephen Henley

The coronavirus pandemic feels like it has taken over the world, affecting every single person in one way or another. It has shut down our cities, halted the public celebration of Mass, and even taken lives, but it cannot take away our Faith. As St. Paul says, “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Rom 8:35,37). No doubt bolstered by this truth, I have watched Legatus members redouble their commitment to studying and living the Faith amid this crisis rather than shrink back.

One great example of members studying the Faith has been our popular Catholic Leadership Through Crisis webinar series that began this spring. We have listened to bishops and priests, doctors, and presidents, absorbing each one’s perspective on what it means to be Catholic right here, right now. Truly understanding our Faith is a prerequisite to living it. The fact that these webinars have been so well attended by presidents and CEOs during a time when “business as usual” has been turned on its head is a testament to the true depth of faith among our members.

Though none of us would have chosen this situation, it has also afforded us a unique opportunity to move from simply knowing to living our Faith in an even more prominent way. As the world continues to grapple with this new and dangerous situation, it looks evermore toward its leaders for direction and example. So many idols have been demolished by the coronavirus – wealth, sports, freedom, and above all, the illusion that we are in control. People are shaken, afraid, confused. How can anyone be at peace? How can anyone have hope? We know the answer – and even more than that, we know the Person who is the answer. When Legatus members face, with a supernatural peace and a supernatural hope, all of the tough choices now thrust upon business leaders, their witness will shine like a bright light in the darkness. This is what living the Faith is all about. So we thank God who, in His omnipotence, can bring wonderful opportunity out of such a devastating situation, and we ask for the grace to embrace it, to embrace our mission as Legatus.

STEPHEN M. HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

For China’s economy, post-pandemic ‘new normal’ could be devastating

By the time you read this, America will be returning back to normal. We will be getting over our temporary obsession with ventilators and respirators, with testing and vaccines, and with daily totals of infections and deaths.

The China virus will remain with us at some lower level, but we will have learned how to better protect the vulnerable and more effectively treat those who fall ill.

This will free the rest of us to return to leading productive lives, running our businesses from our offices rather than our homes, patronizing our restaurants rather than eating take-out, and, most importantly, worshipping in our churches rather than in front of bigscreen TVs.

With the medical crisis under control and the financial rescue package priming the pump, the American economy will quickly rebound. The stock market will continue to recover its losses, and the legions of unemployed will return to work.

The wider world, on the other hand, will be a very different place. China’s rise to global dominance, which once seemed inexorable, may now be indefinitely postponed. The European Union, another rival to continued U.S. preeminence, has been greatly weakened by the reaction to the spread of the China virus as countries there suddenly rediscovered the utility of national borders.

But China is the world’s biggest loser, and it has only itself to blame. Leave aside the still-open question of whether the coronavirus in question had been “enhanced” in the lab to make it more infectious and lethal. What we are fairly certain of is that “Patient Zero” was a lab worker in the Wuhan Institute of Virology who was accidently exposed to the virus, became infected, and passed the infection along to others. From there it quickly spread throughout that city of 11 million people.

The subsequent actions of China’s Communist leaders seem almost designed to spread the disease rather than contain it. From the destruction of early laboratory studies to the silencing of whistleblowers, from the delay in telling the world about the novel coronavirus to the denial that it could be spread from person to person, each of these missteps cost precious lives.

But what is truly inexplicable is this: After the Communist authorities realized they had an epidemic on their hands, they continued to allow flights to depart from Wuhan to all corners of the globe.

To this day, Beijing denies access to the lab where the pandemic began, refuses to release an accurate accounting of infected and dead, and propagates the ridiculous lie that the China virus was actually an American bioweapon that was deliberately used to attack China.

Given all this, it is not surprising that global attitudes have turned dramatically against the government that unleashed this pandemic upon the world. Japan is paying its corporations to shift production out of China. Americans are suing the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party in the courts. And African countries victimized by Chinese “debt trap” construction projects are demanding to have their loans forgiven.

It seems apparent that the Chinese economy is about to suffer what we might call a “death by a thousand cuts.” No single cut—a resumption of the Trump tariffs, supply chains relocating to other countries, factories relocating to freer climes, consumers around the world rejecting China’s wares—would be fatal. But taken together, they will bleed China’s economy dry. They may also, it is to be hoped, shake the corrupt and incompetent CCP to its very foundations.

Could the death of the CCP’s “China Dream” of world domination result in a rebirth of freedom for the Chinese people? We should so pray.

STEVEN W. MOSHER is president of the Population Research Institute and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream Is the New Threat to World Order

Unprecedented times

Like many of you, Legatus has not been immune to the challenges that faced us in the Coronavirus outbreak. As an organization, our staff collectively visits 40+ chapters each month, and this was brought to a screeching halt in mid-March. On March 14, I directed our staff to be grounded and manage their areas of operation from their home offices. I likewise limited our headquarters staff to a minimal level and asked most to work from home. What was our staff response to these circumstances? We have to do more for our members during this time.

Stephen Henley

On March 16 we hosted a webinar with Dr. Tim Flanigan of the Boston Chapter, an infectious disease doctor and expert, who gave 150+ participating Legatus members an insider understanding of the situation. He allowed questions from everyone. Over the next several weeks, we will hear from Legatus members sharing how they are handling the situation from a business perspective, and a spiritual one.

 Our staff initiated a Divine Mercy Chaplet nationwide, with Legatus families gathering around their computers praying for an end to this pandemic. I received many emails thanking us for these opportunities for uniting as Legatus members.

 A daily rosary has been led by Legatus staff and members to bring together our community in prayer, remembering our collective commission as Legatus members, as Catholics: to get to heaven and take as many souls with us as possible.

These times of prayer, shared by so many Legates, seem all the more important as dioceses across the country shut down public Masses, times of adoration, and other group gatherings. We have still been able to come together as the Universal Church and find Christ’s presence in one another. Lent presented a new facet of suffering for all of us.

During this Lenten fast, I have been reminded of the time the Apostles isolated themselves after the Crucifixion of Jesus, waiting for a sign. They lived in fear of their own deaths for having known the Lord, but they were in an uncertain position, unsure of what next step to take. I am especially struck by the leadership of Peter during this time. Jesus knew that Peter was the right man for the job. In fact, Peter had his own fishing company on the Sea of Galilee. This is why Peter is the patron of Legatus. Peter knew they had to take each next right step and that God would provide.

 Perhaps this is part of God’s plan: for us to retreat from the constant movement and distractions of our lives, and to just be. It draws us to focus and rely on Him and to remember what is really important in our lives.

 Staying logged in to Legatus Networks brings you up-to-date information on our programs and announcements – without our filling your inbox with notices. Listen to archived speaker recordings, learn of special events, join discussion groups, and stay connected in many other ways. Not on Networks? Just email networks@legatus.org, and we’ll set you up.

STEPHEN M. HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Protect yourself from respiratory viruses

Coronavirus and the influenza epidemic have highlighted the need to be smart about our exposure to respiratory viruses. Two public health organizations — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) — stand out as credible resources for the latest news about these epidemics.

Respiratory viruses spread through respiratory droplets emitted by persons who are coughing or sneezing. People of all ages can be infected, but older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions are especially vulnerable to severe complications. 

How do I protect myself? One of the first things you can do is to make sure you are up to date on the flu vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine. Avoid exposure to people who have a respiratory virus.

The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

How effective is hand sanitizer? Alcohol based hand sanitizers can provide a level of protection, but the alcohol within them evaporates fast — and so does its protections. The application of sanitizer you used after touching a doorknob will likely kill the germs on your hand currently, but five minutes later you may not be protected. 

Should I wear a mask? The WHO acknowledges that wearing masks might be useful if you’re sick in order to prevent you from sneezing or coughing into somebody’s face. However, they add that a mask that is used to prevent an infection is sometimes not very effective because people take it off to eat, they are prone to be worn improperly, and if they get wet and somebody sneezes on that mask it could pass through.

What if I think I have a respiratory virus? Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC reports that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. If your symptoms worsen and you plan to go to a doctor’s office, call ahead and explain your situation so they can take appropriate infection controls.

SUSAN LOCKE, M.D., is the Healthnetwork Foundation medical director. She is board certified in both internal medicine and psychiatry, having earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University and her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College.