N.C. Chamber CEO Gary Salamido says a shelter-in-place order should only be issued as a last resort in the state’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic. He and the Chamber believe the order would have a devastating impact on the economy and say North Carolina is better-prepared to handle the crisis thanks to the actions taken by Governor Cooper and his team. Salamido elaborated on his thoughts in response to a set of questions from Business North Carolina which can be read below.
How is the NC Chamber tracking the coronavirus impact on businesses?
Right now, the best way for us to get a handle on how this is impacting business is to keep talking to our members. They are giving us updates from across the state on how this is impacting not only their business but, more importantly, their people. Business want to help their communities and are looking for ways to aid and support our health professionals. Many already are and we have enjoyed sharing those stories through our #SeetheGoodNC effort.
What would a “last-ditch scenario” look like where a shelter-in-place order would be necessary?
North Carolina is in a better position to respond to this kind of crisis than most states and we should rely on that expertise before digging and jumping into the last ditch. Many businesses around the country are only now learning what North Carolina businesses already know — how to heed and cooperate with the entry of executive orders and emergency management directives, and how to step up in a time of need and share resources and communications. Our position is to simply make it clear that shelter in place should be a last resort, it should be a data-driven decision with the guidelines for resolution understood at the outset. Moving to shelter in place is appropriate when our elected officials are satisfied that it is the last resort and we will respect their decision once it is made.
Has there ever been a precedent or similar situation where shelter-in-place was ordered in NC?
As Governor Cooper and his team have said, we have not been here before. There is not a scenario in recent memory that compares.
Could you elaborate on the potential disruption a shelter-in-place order would have on the private sector? Is there a forecast for the worst-case scenario of economic interruption?
Few participate in our state’s economy without relying on or supplying others. A shelter-in-place order, without a clear end in sight, would inject tremendous uncertainty and disruption into our state’s economy and, ultimately, people’s livelihoods. Because we have not been here before and we are not talking about an identified period of time, there is really no way to forecast a potential impact.
How do you feel about the current restrictions imposed by Governor Cooper?
Governor Cooper and his team have shown tremendous leadership and we commend their thoughtful, deliberate approach.
What should NC be doing to improve its response, in your opinion?
North Carolinians should feel confident in the steady hands steering our state’s response to COVID-19. Governor Cooper and his team, including North Carolina Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry, Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Betsy Tilson, State Health Director, have shown tremendous leadership.
On the national level there’s talk of ending business shutdowns and returning to work in the coming weeks, rather than waiting for months as was previously expected. What are business leaders taking into account when weighing these different scenarios and options?
Right now business leaders are just looking for certainty. They want to protect their people and retain their employees so as much certainty as they can have on what to expect, the better they are able to plan and find ways to do that.