May 15, 2020

Mask Communication

Mask Communication

I need to start this week with a big MEA CULPA. Being caught up in the coronavirus pandemic, managing Marcum through it, being quarantined for what’s going on day 60 today with the ones I love, I completely forgot when writing last week’s column that Sunday was Mother’s Day. I always acknowledge Mother’s Day in my Friday before column, but not this year.

But this year was no ordinary Mother’s Day. Instead of Tracy and me seeing our mothers at our traditional Mother’s Day dinner, we had to settle for FaceTime renditions with us in New York City, Tracy’s mom on Long Island and my mother, 87 years old and alone in Boynton Beach, Fl. I’m sure many, if not all, of you have many similar tales to tell. So, to all of you mothers out there, my belated happy Mother’s Day wishes. Hopefully next year it’s an in-person celebration.

In the category of “believe it or not,” there are people who are still refusing to wear facemasks in public. Some of them see this basic, common-sense mandate as an infringement on their personal freedom – even the ones who consider themselves uber-patriots, somehow missing that declining to wear a facemask is akin to aiding and abetting the enemy.

Now that stores are starting to reopen around the country, the “refusers” – and the confrontations that are taking place around them – just about make my blood boil. There was even a murder at one store in Flint, Michigan, where a security guard refused to admit a woman who would not put on a mask, and her family members allegedly came back and killed him. I personally witnessed the police being called to a food store I was in when two customers refused to wear masks.

There’s a lot to debate about the coronavirus, but one thing that’s clear is that private businesses have the right to protect their people and their customers from getting sick. And customers have the right to be protected from those not smart or aware enough to know what’s going on and how to mitigate the spread. They don’t have to admit someone who selfishly refuses to follow basic safety procedures.

As business leaders, many of us do everything we can to keep our customers happy, but we will need to be uncompromising on the health and safety of our employees and customers in the coming weeks, as more businesses reopen. Otherwise we could end up with rising infections and more lockdowns. It only makes sense given the medical community’s expectation of a second wave in the fall.

Many essential workers have been risking their health – and their families’ – by coming to work during the pandemic. (Accounting was actually designated as an essential business, but as regular readers know, Marcum opted to protect our team’s health by working remotely since March 17). As more businesses open up, more of our teams will find themselves in situations where they risk coming into contact with someone who is sick, whether it’s in an office or on a factory floor. They need to know we’ve got their backs.

So do the healthcare workers who have been making incredible sacrifices to take care of patients with the coronavirus, putting their lives at risk as they work around the clock without proper equipment and sleep away from their families. What we do in the business community will have a big effect on what the next few months look like for those on the frontlines.

Speaking of the frontline, I’m proud to announce that the Marcum Foundation is partnering with BurgerFi, a national better burger restaurant group with 125 locations, to deliver meals to healthcare heroes fighting COVID-19 in cities across the U.S. Together, we will deliver 20,000 meals to hospital workers and first responders.

The meal drop program launched yesterday in New York City, the epicenter of the country’s pandemic, with the delivery of 2,000 meals to Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. New York has been hit very hard, with more than 192,000 cases of COVID-19 already identified in the city – and more almost surely to come.

Tracy and I were there along with others from the Marcum team, as the Marcum bus pulled up and the BurgerFi team emerged bearing 2,000 lunches for the deserving staff from Mount Sinai. What a great moment that was!

More than 5,000 meals will be delivered to New York hospitals alone in the next few days. Between now and May 25, we’ll be distributing 15,000 more meals at hospitals around the country, culminating with drops at select VA hospitals on Memorial Day.

To learn more about the program and to support the cause, click here.

The good news is that the number of cases of COVID-19 in New York City continues to decline. On May 11, there were 774 new cases reported, down from the peak of 8,021 on April 15. Clearly, all of the mask wearing and social distancing we’ve been doing has been working, and I’m glad to see that many people are committed to doing all they can to beat this foe for as long as it takes.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and remember we are all in this together.