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Mining People Magazine


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.

Published by

Al Skinner, Inc.


Al Skinner


Managing Editor

Christina Martin


Staff Writer/Field Reporter

Debra McCown Thomas

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