In Conscious Growth Club, we’ve been discussing the coronavirus situation since February 26, and our discussion thread called “Coronavirus preparation” is now up to 325 posts and still growing. Perhaps a half-dozen related threads have been started as well, as members are discussing topics like self-care in isolation, immunity boosting tips, and sharing updates on what’s happening in different countries. So we’ve had some visibility on it this sooner than most, which gave us a head start on mentally and emotionally preparing ourselves for it.
Contrast this with various local businesses that haven’t been as aware of what’s coming up and were thrown for a loop at the speed and surprise of changes coming at them.
Let me share some local Las Vegas businesses how have been adapting.
Casinos and Hotels
The casinos and hotels are shut down statewide. So the Vegas Strip is shuttered. This essentially turns off the flow of money coming into the city.
The larger operations seem to be paying their employees for the next 2 weeks up to 30 days, but the smaller ones are already laying people off. I read that about 206K casino employees are out of work now.
This is going to crash the cities economy, badly enough that I think it will take years to recover. When we reach the point that the bigger casinos have to start laying people off, it will take them a long time for them to rebuild afterwards. And it will take a while to rebuild tourism to the city.
These larger operations don’t have a lot of good adaptations right now other than laying everyone off. It’s not like they can convert their large spaces to other social uses. They’ve had to turn off just about every revenue stream: hotel stays, gambling, shows, restaurants, night clubs, spas, arcades, etc. The entire resorts are closed.
Some local places have remained open 24/7 for many years, so they literally had to hire a locksmith to come over and install locks. They’d never had cause to lock their front doors because they had never closed before.
Additionally Cirque du Soleil, which has many shows in Vegas, laid off 95% of its global workforce, basically letting go of all of its performers.
Presently the casinos seem to be begging the federal government for bailout money, along with many other businesses.
Some resorts actually have to pay rent because they don’t own the land they’re on. The Bellagio is in this situation, for instance. So what happens when rent is due, but there’s no money coming in?
My local fitness studio has adapted to this situation quickly. They converted their in-person classes to online streaming classes. They provided all active members with access to a private area of their website where we can watch streaming classes online. Each day they post a schedule of classes.
Today, for instance, there are 11 classes include various forms of yoga, pilates, bootcamp, and barre. There’s even an indoor cycling class, which I guess is suitable for people who have exercise bikes at home.
It looks like they may stream a class live the first time and also record it. Or maybe they just record them all – it’s hard to tell. But they’re streaming on a schedule with only one class available at a time, and you cannot pause a video in progress, so it simulates the feeling of live classes. It’s less flexible though because if they’re recording these anyway, they could just make all recordings available at all times.
They must be in a tough situation though. Rachelle and I have each done a few of the streaming classes. They’re well done, and I like that this option is available so I can continue what I started in February in some fashion. But it’s not as good as the in-person experience at the studio.
This studio is part of a growing chain across several states, so they can pool resources to create the online classes. The ones we watched looked like they’re being recorded in Vegas though. Some people were wearing Vegas shirts in one video, and another was done by an instructor we know from our local studio.
This must be a tough situation for them. If the online classes are only needed for a few weeks, hopefully it will help members keep their memberships going and not cancel. But if this situation goes on for months, I think more people will conclude that they should cancel their memberships. I think people will find it hard to justify paying as much for online video workouts as they do for the live in-studio experience.
One issue Rachelle and I both noted though is that on some of the videos they’re creating, they’re clearly not practicing good social distancing. They have an instructor and several students on yoga mats within arm’s length of each other sometimes. That’s a concern. I think a lot of people are having a hard time noting just how disciplined we need to be about social distancing.
Rachelle and I stopped going to classes at this studio about two weeks ago. We were sad to stop, but we saw this situation coming a while before it began to unfold locally. Initially after we stopped going, the studio tried to adapt with fewer classes and more sanitation procedures, but I knew it wasn’t going to matter.
That’s a pattern I’ve seen a lot locally. Businesses are trying to incrementally adapt, but often by the time they figure out their incremental adaptations and announce them to their customers or clients, the situation has already moved beyond that.
Initially the local music store where I take guitar lessons tried to keep their stores open but with more limited hours. Fortunately our Nevada Governor shut that idea down by ordering (instead of merely requesting) all nonessential businesses to shut down.
I did my last lesson there more than two weeks ago and canceled all upcoming lessons indefinitely, having a glimpse of what was about to unfold. I told someone at the store that I expected the store would be closed by the end of the month. I don’t think he believed me at the time.
During the past week, the store sent out a couple of emails announcing reduced hours for their physical locations and added the ability to continue lessons online, saying that the guitar teachers would follow up with their students individually about this. Their plan was to still have the teachers stream the lessons from the stores.
I knew this wouldn’t last long. A few days later the store had to completely by Governor’s orders.
I’m not sure if they’re going to try adapting to this now by letting their music teachers teach and stream lessons from home. That seems a bit risky for them because they take a cut of the lesson tuition. So it’s like cutting themselves out of the loop, although they could still handle booking and billing lessons.
I like the in-person lessons, but I don’t think I’d want to do them remotely if given the options. There are other ways I could take online lessons that are more flexible. And I’d miss the face-to-face aspect.
Close to our house they’ve converted the usual weekend farmers market into a drive-through version, so people can get fresh produce without leaving their cars. There’s a short video of it at the link below if you want to see how it works.
This seems like an okay adaptation at first, especially since the helpers wear gloves when they handle the produce and money. But the video still shows some examples of people not applying good social distancing as they move around the area, so while this may be better than going to an overcrowded grocery store, it’s still showing risky behavior.
An even worse issue is that when a local food bank announces that they’re giving away food, like in a parking lot, people swarm the area to acquire the food. These giveaways may be well-intentioned, but there’s a serious lack of awareness or discipline about the criticality of social distancing, which makes it easier for the virus to spread.
If we keep seeing this pattern locally, it’s just going to make the situation worse.
Vegas has a lot of strip clubs, and this situation puts many of them out in the cold. One local club quickly tried to adapt by offering drive-by strip shows. The idea was that patrons would stay in their cars, pay $100, pull up to a window, and a stripper would perform for them from a distance for 10 minutes. No touching allowed of course.
This idea generated some local press, maybe for its creativity or simply for its desperation, but was dead on arrival. The club didn’t have a chance to implement the idea before it was ordered fully closed by the Governor, along with all other nonessential businesses.
Earlier today I learned that a strip club in Portland came up with a different idea. Partly as a joke, the club’s owner suggested on social media that they should convert to a food delivery service and have the strippers deliver food to people. Some people started to seriously inquire about the idea, so the owner decided to do exactly that. Now they have strippers with drivers (who also serve as security for them) taking food orders and delivering food. They say they’ll even deliver food to the coast (about an hour’s drive from Portland) if people are willing to pay enough for it. The name of the new service: Boober Eats.
Since strippers typically work as independent contractors, they’re not eligible for unemployment benefits. So while it’s to be expected that they may try to create new income streams, reporters have noted that the place in Portland isn’t practicing social distancing.
One source noted that while the owner is providing masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizing wipes, there are major problems present with social distancing:
But social distancing seemed to be a struggle for the women themselves. The club has turned into the headquarters for Boober Eats, and on Friday, it remained full of dancers, delivery drivers and members of the media. Some of the dancers greeted each other with hugs and took selfies together.Source: Oregon Live
So there’s a genuine risk that this could become a coronavirus delivery service.
Problems with These Adaptations
These adaptations, while understandable, creative, and perhaps even admirable in some situations, aren’t without issues, especially when it comes to social distancing.
I think we’ll likely run into more local businesses trying to make similar adaptations, and I caution everyone not to ignore social distancing since it remains so critical right now.
Some of these problems can be solved with better attention to detail. For instance, we don’t need lots of students on a streaming yoga video to demonstrate the postures. One or two would be sufficient, separated by a generous distance. And the Farmers Market could assign one person to one or two tables, so their paths aren’t crossing each other and they stay in their own zones.
The USA has now surpassed 42K reported coronavirus cases. Three days ago (on March 20) we were at 16K cases, and on that day I predicted that we’d surpass 50K cases sometime on Tuesday (tomorrow). Unfortunately we’re right on schedule, even slightly ahead of schedule.
My other predictions were that we’d reaching 100,000 USA cases on March 27 and that we’d reach 1,000,000 cases on April 3rd. Of course it’s possible that we may not do enough testing to achieve those predictions on the reporting side, but the virus is still showing abundant momentum to get there whether or not testing can keep up with it. Many experts suggest that the true cases are likely to be at least 10x higher than the reported cases, so we could be looking at 10M+ true cases (or more) sometime next week. That can and will overwhelm many hospitals.
I’ve also noticed that this virus is moving socially closer. Last week I learned that a friend of a friend of a friend died from it. Then last night a friend’s niece passed away from it. More people that I connect with on social media have been reporting their own confirmed or likely infections.
Now imagine all of this being 25X higher sometime next week. And then it will flow right into 50X and then 100X without stopping.
If the adaptations seem reasonable, they aren’t. If they seem ridiculously strict, they may be just barely adequate.