The fast-spreading Covid-19 Delta variant is dishing out problems we weren’t expecting, given that the spring and summer seemed to exhibit a steady drop in the numbers of infections and hospitalizations. Now, some experts say, this variant appears worse than when we first faced Covid last year. It’s causing employers, school boards and many others to face tough questions again, notably whether all employees should be required to be vaccinated.
First, it’s reported that vaccination is increasingly being required of new hires by many businesses. In fact, the job-search website Indeed.com noted that the number of firms posting job openings that require candidates to be vaccinated recently doubled. Moreover, employers ranging from the federal government and state of California to McDonald’s, Disney and others have begun requiring at least some workers be vaccinated or face frequent testing.
With certain exceptions based on religious beliefs or compromising medical conditions, it has been established, albeit it challenged, that dealers can legally require employees to get vaccinated. The issue becomes even more relevant when employees who are not vaccinated are suddenly out for 10-14 days or more due to illness.
Adding complications to a vaccination policy is the fact that a vaccinated employee can still be infected by the Delta variant. I can testify. Early on, I got the two Pfizer shots and considered myself protected, although I still wore a mask and took other precautions. After recently developing some symptoms, I tested positive. My bout with the virus was mild and short-lived, and the symptoms disappeared in four days. I credit the vaccine’s protection. And it’s clear that if I were on a dealership team, any disruption caused by my absence would have been far longer if I were unvaccinated.
But there’s more.
A rising number of small-business owners are now reporting negative impacts from the Delta variant. It’s confirmed, for example, that traffic at easily monitored businesses like gas stations, gyms and grocery stores is taking a nose dive after surpassing pre-Covid, 2019 levels earlier this summer. We were on a nice roll.
Suddenly in mid-August, perhaps the worst news comes from the consumer sentiment index, tracked by the University of Michigan. Sentiment just recorded one of the sharpest declines since the index first began monthly tracking in 1978.
Finally, The Wall Street Journal reported that a survey of more than 560 small businesses indicated that confidence has dropped this month to its lowest level since early last spring.
Bottom line: Delta appears to be kicking butt, which thrusts the determination of policies concerning employee vaccinations back to our industry’s front burner.
Are More Cancellations Ahead?
The announcement in yesterday’s Trade Only Today that Trawlerfest Newport has been postponed until 2022 due to the Delta variant and a shortage of inventory was a shocker, but understandable. If you’re a regular Trade Only Today reader, you’ll recall my blog a week ago (Aug. 10) about the enthusiasm for the return of the traditional fall shows, from Washington to Rhode Island and New Jersey to Florida, starting with the big Orlando Boat Show just 10 days from now and including major Great Lakes shows in Ohio and Michigan.
While determining what may happen in each case is surely to be an ongoing discussion, it’s clear Delta has blindsided us on all levels, as we once again wait for news and data so we can make sound decisions.
Frankly, I’m sure you, like me, never anticipated we’d be facing this dilemma again so soon.