It has been obvious to all for many months that the restoration of both the nation‘s health and its economy is dependent upon a sufficient percentage of the population being vaccinated so that we can get to herd immunity. In addition, it has been equally clear that the pace of vaccinations slowed for several months after the initial flurry of excitement.
Unfortunately, the high rate of recent infections in many states that have not sufficiently encouraged vaccinations show that they have the health/economic analysis entirely backwards. In order to both restore our health and reopen the economy, we need business to press harder to get their employees vaccinated to avoid a further continuation of the Covid calamity. Those states had the right idea to focus on reopening the economy; the problem is that they did it wrong.
With the explosion of cases due to the expansion of the Delta variant, some business people have started to come to the conclusion that stronger action is needed. For example, last week Eric‘s old law firm Cooley was the first major firm to direct that not only must all attorneys (except in specific individual circumstances) be vaccinated, all visitors must be as well. A few days later, hedge fund chieftain and former Trump press secretary (for ten days) Anthony Scaramucci asserted that if employees wanted to work at his fund Skybridge Capital they needed to be vaccinated. Further, Scaramucci said that if they didn’t like it, they could take him to court. No vaccination, no work!
It’s about time that a major business person spoke up in such a clear and direct fashion. How refreshing! In order to set things right we need firm public statements and directives from major public and private employers.
Other major Wall Street banks such as Morgan Stanley have required vaccination, but none with the fervor of Scaramucci. In my view, it is time that businesses step up. Moreover, it is particularly important in order to have the greatest impact that the impetus comes from the major consumer and industrial companies (whither Walmart, or Amazon). And if they are worried about consumer backlash, what is stopping Coke and Pepsi from requiring vaccinations at the same time – that would not be an anti-trust violation. Businesses competing in the same space could act in concert to insulate each other from criticism.
If we want our economy to flourish, we need to get healthy people back to business. In addition to all hospitals requiring vaccinations, so should all city, state and federal employers. Come to think of it, all of the major sports leagues (and players are major role models) should step up to the plate (let’s overdo the sports metaphors here) and require the jab as well. Further, if individual players don’t want to get vaccinated, next man (or woman) up. There are plenty of players in the lower leagues who would jump at the chance to play. There is something profoundly wrong when big strong ballplayers who pride themselves on their toughness are unwilling to get a shot to protect their teammates and opponents.
For those of you wondering why I am banging on about this issue, all of the above will also have great resonance in our neck of the woods – New York City. Because we live in the densest city in the country, New Yorkers have borne perhaps the most risk during the pandemic as we live, travel and work in close quarters. Over 33,000 of our fellow New York City residents are already dead according to the official New York Times count, and many more unofficially. Further, the pandemic is a perfect excuse for people not to go to the office – who can blame them for not wanting to run the gauntlet of crowded streets, crammed subways and bustling offices.
But there is an easy way to start to resolve the problem. New York City landlords and employers should ban anyone who is not vaccinated from working or visiting their buildings and offices, and those in other cities should do the same.
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best one. It’s time for our business leaders to take control and get the job done – for the benefit of New York City and all its inhabitants.
So that’s the way I see it. More importantly, what do our friends and clients think? Please let us know.