Ready to Travel?

By Lloyd Graff

The reopening of 90% of the Starbucks stores in the US over the next 4-6 weeks is a signal moment in the COVID-19 recovery, but what does it mean for the machining world?

I think it is a significant moment, but not a game-changer in itself. Nor are the very hopeful results coming in on the new Gilead drug remdesivir, which is already in use but not approved yet as an antiviral in America.

For many of our clients who make so much product for cars, trucks, and airplanes, as well as the oil and gas industry, the big question is when will people feel confident about getting out of their homes and doing the things they did routinely last year when the economy was humming along.

Unfortunately, this is much less clear because we are dealing with the big issue of fear of sickness and dying, especially if you are over 70 or have issues such as diabetes, heart disease, breathing problems, or lack of immunity. These categories probably affect over 25% of the American population.

If you take out 80 million people in America, plus millions in other countries with a lot of older people, such as those in Europe, it is hard to imagine robust auto, aviation, and travel business for quite a while. A second wave of COVID would cement the fear factor well into the next year.

Travelers cautiously brave O’Hare Airport

It seems to me that America really goes back to work when illness and death from COVID-19 is no longer the lead story in the news. This is why I keep thinking how important it is for the 2020 election and big time sports to become the focus on TV. The news media has correctly gauged the interest in the pandemic but have also fanned the panic.

We are really getting closer to it becoming just an addition to the flu season, but it will probably not happen until we have a credible vaccine. The scientists who know the regulatory hurdles, which will probably be more significant than the successful development ones, say it is very unlikely until next year sometime.

The question that I keep noodling is when will my wife and I feel confident enough to go to the airport, get on a plane, and visit our daughter and family in the Bay Area and vice versa. I know it will take longer than just for Starbucks to open its doors. It will take longer than the NBA and Major League Baseball to restart, which I project to restart by early June.

I will throw out my guess and ask you to give me yours. When will you feel safe to travel? When will you jump into an Uber car? When will COVID-19 be old news?

I will go with August 15th 2020. The Cubs will be in first place then. The presidential campaign will be starting to get nasty, and the 2021 cars will be ready to roll out.

Your guess?

Question: When will you feel confident enough to travel?


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12 thoughts on “Ready to Travel?

  1. Greg Anderson

    Flying to Phoenix next Wednesday. Empty planes are safer
    than most stores right now I believe. Especially the crowd I saw around the Starbucks in my Lincoln Park neighborhood this past Sunday, ouch. No thank you to that.

  2. Misterchipster

    At the drop of a hat! There’s way too much media hype (coverage)! Just remember, when you watch the “news” you are the one being sold. Do your homework on the 1968-1969 Hong Kong flu/pandemic, nothing shut down, it mutated too fast for a reliable vaccine and has been with us ever since. My heart goes out to those that have lost loved ones. Covid 19 is serious but certainly should not be parallelizing. Use distancing when appropriate and wash your hands often!

  3. Lloyd Graff

    IMTS is an interesting question. I reserve judgment on that, even with a quiet Covid-19 picture. The crush of people, the vast numbers of people from all 0ver the world makes me fear it, today, but I appreciate you asking about now, because this is the beginning of a critical planning period for many exhibitors.

  4. Tim

    i like the August 15 date……..however the Cubs pitching problems will have them in 3rd place

  5. Todd Miller

    I’ll feel confident to Uber, travel and stay in hotels again in June or July, when the number of coronavirus cases is presumably down to a trickle. I will, however, practice social distancing, wear a mask and be a fiend about hand-washing until a vaccine or cure becomes available. More than anything, I’m looking forward to the return of baseball, with or without fans in the stands. Even though both of my teams are terrible (Pirates and Tigers), the games provide a rhythm to daily life that’s difficult to replace.

  6. Lloyd Graff

    Todd, you bring up a great point. Baseball, NBA and NFL provide a RHYTHM to daily life. The games on TV, the sports page, the standings, sports radio talk provide stitching for the daily challenges and crises. As much as anything, that is what I miss so much.

  7. Dennis Hilgendorf

    I’ll travel now, if I need to. All the models were based on doing nothing and they have been way over blown. My heart goes out to those that lost loved ones, but many other diseases take many more lives daily (cancer with 607,000 deaths in 2019), but we don’t shut down the country. What about automobile accidents? Should we ban those, just because accidents kill around 34,000 people per year in the US?
    This will be drawn out all the way to the election since it’s the only way seen possible to remove President Trump from office. Like everything else though, this will and has already backfired. Wash hands and keep the social distancing and everything will be fine.

  8. KimB

    We had planned to travel this summer to visit my in-laws in Europe. Fortunately we hadn’t already purchased tickets; we won’t be going. Even if they aren’t still on lock down, it just doesn’t seem the right time to go. Instead we’ll perhaps go somewhere in driving distance if things start to normalize. I’m in the low-risk, but potentially asymptomatic, group so I’m trying to do my part for others, even those who don’t seem to care. I’m in Los Angeles, so not quite as scary as NY, but still a serious concern.

    I really would like to go to IMTS. I expect that would be my first plane trip since all of this. I just don’t know what to expect from the show. Will people come? Will we somehow be social distancing at the show? That doesn’t really seem possible.

  9. r in nyc

    As stated earlier by Misterchipster, this whole WuFlu thing is overblown.
    due to the invention of the wheel, we lose 50,000 each year in auto accidents.
    nobody complains
    we lose 50,000 each year to overdoses.
    Where’s the OUTRAGE???
    we lose 50,000 each year to suicide.
    nobody cares
    600,000 die each year from some sort of cancer.
    too much money in treating rather than curing, nobody cares.
    650,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths
    Everybody has a gym membership, but never goes.

    Every year 3 million people die in the US
    with a total of 60,000 (we’re not even close) WuFlu deaths, that would be 2 tenths of of one percent of annual deaths. not the millions we were told

    I normally drive.
    MUCH easier to legally travel with a gun!
    Leaves my options to protect myself and family to me!
    NOT the TSA – do you trust the minimum wage airport screeners laughing at everyones’ naked X-rays?
    And look at the gas prices.
    I can forgo the temperature check, groping, X-ray and prostate exam at the airport.
    I have much greater flexibility in my plans.
    Traffic right now is minimal!

    The Cannonball run just set a new record – with empty highways, they shaved off an hour from the recent broken record.

    If you are wondering why the country is still shut down?:

    As Bill Maher said:
    I’m “hoping” for the bottom to fall out of the economy and for the country to enter a recession so we can “get rid of Trump.” one way to do that is a “crashing economy.” He is “sorry” if it hurts people, but rooting for a recession is a prevention measure to losing democracy.
    “Can I ask about the economy because this economy is going pretty well? I feel like the bottom has to fall out at some point. And by the way, I’m hoping for it. Because I think one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy. So, please, bring on the recession. Sorry if that hurts people, but it’s either root for a recession or you lose your democracy,”

    Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington, DC: “If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very very low crime rate.”

    Stay Safe All!!!

  10. fred

    In 2017 155,000+ people died in NYS. That’s 420-ish per day average. Right now the daily death toll in NYS is around the same. What they aren’t saying is how many from Cov19 and how many others from other causes?? My wife and I are high risk, and we’re able to isolate pretty well and avoid people, as we work from home. We have groceries delivered and that’s working very well. I plan on a very boring summer, and maybe this fall a treatment or vaccine will come about. Maybe I’m paranoid, but the ventilator ride does not seem like a good option for us, so we’ll play it extra safe.


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