Imagine you own a hotel in NYC. Operating costs and taxes are high and you exist on the margins. Along comes the military and the state. They want to commandeer your hotel for COVID-19 patients. You really don’t have much of a choice. This is a pandemic, after all, and we all must sacrifice, especially small business owners and their employees, the latter now unemployed due to a lockdown. The state and the military plan to modify your building to make it amenable to ICU care—nurse stations constructed in the hallways, airconditioning modified for negative pressure, and other structural changes.
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite explains.
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, Chief of the @USACEHQ, provides a 'simple' solution to the complicated problem of building temporary medical facilities to assist states with responding to #COVID19. This clip is from a press conference by Army senior leader on March 20, 2020. pic.twitter.com/HrASBfRSjz
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 21, 2020
Now imagine the pandemic has passed. Your hotel is no longer suitable for its original purpose short of modification. Few customers—mostly those who know it was used as a COVID-19 hospital—want to lodge there. This fear is irrational but human nature. Unless the state compensates you for the loss, you’re screwed. It’s the end of your business, maybe your life’s dream. Will the government buy the hotel so you can pay off your mortgage? In other words, will hapless taxpayers pickup the tab? The general says nothing about this.
We all have to sacrifice—some more than others.