Mining People Magazinewww.miningpeople.org
by Debra McCown Thomas
Staff Writer / Field Reporter
Americans are resilient and
innovative people, and that’s
why our country has been a
leader in the world for so long...
Coronavirus Can’t Keep Us Down
hen the Covid-19 pandemic
first hit everyone’s radar back in
March, I was across the country,
with a packed schedule of events
and site visits in Nevada and
Arizona to cover stories for this magazine.
I had arrived on a Sunday night, and by
Monday people were beginning to talk
about the virus. By Tuesday, my visit to
a mine outside Phoenix was limited to
above-ground only; new corporate social
distancing requirements prohibited visitors
in confined spaces. On Wednesday and
Thursday, the big trade show in Las Vegas
had a sparser-than-expected crowd.
On Thursday evening, I got a phone call
that’s been echoed by many more in the
weeks since: due to the coronavirus,
everything I had scheduled on Friday
was cancelled. Fortunately, my flight on
Saturday was not cancelled, and I was glad
to make it back to the East Coast before
everything got crazy. Within a day or two,
Las Vegas was shut down. Little did we
know, that was only the beginning.
At first, it seemed like it might be over in
a few weeks. I was hopeful, for example,
that a scheduled mine visit might happen
at the end of April. But as the date of my
soonest not-yet-cancelled trip approached,
it became apparent that, with mandated
closures and restrictions still in place, even
that would have to be postponed.
Honestly, with all the craziness going on
because of the virus, even if we’d been able
to keep it on the calendar, it might not have
Even assuming no trouble from stay-
at-home orders at my starting point in
Pennsylvania, I would’ve had to drive
through New York – a state that has been in
the news both as an epidemic hotspot and
a hotspot of police enforcement against
those who dare to be out and about. Had
I made it through that mess, Vermont may
have stopped me at the border – along
with a traffic jam of New Yorkers trying to
escape the virus by bugging out to their New
England vacation homes.
Even now, with various states and localities
talking about opening back up, it’s hard to
predict exactly what local conditions will be
like anywhere – including whether basic
services that support travelers will be open
and safe. What irony that with gasoline
prices low and flights the cheapest they’ve
ever been, the best option is to stay put.
At this point – in the middle of the pandemic
– it’s hard to get a sense of how Covid-19
might impact the mining industry, or industry
in general, or the country as a whole. A lot of
that is because we don’t know yet how long
it will last, how bad it will be, and whether the
push to reopen earlier than scientists advise
will drive the number of infections skyward,
forcing the shutdowns to start all over again.
There are really two sets of questions:
1) How will Covid-19 continue to impact
things in the short term and 2) How will the
pandemic impact the economy in the longer
I don’t have a crystal ball, so I don’t have the
answers to these questions. But I do know
this: Americans are resilient and innovative
people, and that’s why our country has
been a leader in the world for so long,
economically and otherwise.
I think the people who talk as if this virus
and/or various policy responses to it will
somehow destroy the American economy
are engaging in fear-mongering. This is not
Ebola, it’s not the plague of the Middle Ages,
and it’s not even Smallpox. At worst it’s been
compared to the 1918 flu pandemic or polio
– which, like Covid-19, is devastating for
some but mild for most.
Yes, the sudden presence of this new
coronavirus in our world has brought on
disruptions, inconveniences, and stress.
Al Skinner, Inc.
Staff Writer/Field Reporter
Debra McCown Thomas
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