June 29, 2020

Public Health is Tied to Economic Health – We Cannot Have One Without the Other

By: Jason Ball, President and CEO, Round Rock Chamber

Sometimes we have an obligation to listen to news that we do not want to hear. Speaking for myself, there has been a steady drum beat of news that I would prefer not to hear in 2020. But I listened. Just last week, the pace of this news was breathtaking as we heard from state leaders and local community members daily about the progress of coronavirus in Texas.

The trends in the number of cases and the number of hospitalized patients were clear and undeniable. COVID-19 is increasing at a rate so quickly that, if some change does not occur quickly, it could risk overwhelming the capacity of our healthcare systems. That is news that we all need to hear and take seriously.

Reasonable minds can differ about specific thresholds at which to enact certain restrictions, and what restrictions to consider. Reasonable minds can disagree about the appropriate role of government mandates designed to curb the spread of coronavirus. I won’t jump into any of those discussions today. I’m neither an elected official nor an epidemiologist, so it wouldn’t help anyway.

Irrespective of your views on any of the considerations above – and they are important – there are only two salient facts that really must guide our activities in the coming weeks. They are:

  • National experts and local healthcare officials are unified about the benefits to preventing the spread of coronavirus by using a face coverings and social distancing practices in public.
  • In order to return to the economic activity that so benefits our families and communities, the prevalence of coronavirus has to be decreased to level significantly less dangerous to our state.

Whether it is required or not, the combined use of both masks and social distancing are effective. This is why the Chamber and the City of Round Rock launched the “Round Here, We Rock A Mask” campaign, to encourage businesses to require a mask of all employees and customers. Many large and small businesses in Round Rock have already chosen to implement these measures.

Short of having a widely available vaccine, face coverings and social distancing provide the fastest way to return to business. In fact, they may be the only measures that simultaneously allow us to keep businesses open right now and slow the spread of the virus.

These measures are a means to an end we all want – resumption of school for our children and the ability to meet a friend for coffee without fear. If we can all accept a temporary and minor inconvenience now, we can all avoid the much greater, and longer lasting effects, of a prolonged economic turndown or becoming ill ourselves.

The success of Round Rock Cares demonstrated how this community can rally around the businesses and entrepreneurs we care about. We did that because Round Rock’s local restaurants, stores, bars, hair salons, and others are what make our community special. Not every city in America could accomplish what we have here.

That is why I know we can deploy “Round Here, We Rock A Mask” with the same energy and dedication now. Whether it is required or we just do it because the experts know it works, it will benefit all of us.



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