It’s the Holiday Season…
The winter solstice is at 5:02 AM on December 21, 2020. The shortest day of the year. The daylight hours are diminishing until the solstice, at which time the daylight thankfully will begin to increase again. The cycle continues. The approach of the nadir of dark days of winter, with the certainty of brighter days to follow, is an inescapable analogy to the experience of 2020.
As I write this today is the first day of Hanukkah. Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends! Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, etc. all follow shortly. The holiday season is here. Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year! Happy Holidays to the rest who may celebrate others that I have failed to mention, solely due to my ignorance of them. No slights intended. The best gift of all this season would seem to be the apparent successful development of vaccines that promise to end the Covid-19 pandemic sometime during the new year.
Here in Buffalo, however, we realize that just because the daylight hours begin to expand on December 22, our winter storm season remains for some months to come. Even when spring arrives between March 19-21, 2021 with the equinox, we realize that our winter has not yet ended. Some of our legendary snowstorms have occurred right in that timeframe. So too will it be for the rest of the world in 2021. Brighter days are beginning to come into view, but there certainly will be storms to face before we are through with the turmoil that enveloped 2020.
On January 20, 2021, a new administration will take office in the USA. Our politically divided society appears as fragmented as ever, despite a record-breaking election season. The Covid-19 devastation of the health of so many and the economic wellbeing of so many will continue until the so-called “herd immunity” is reached through successful vaccination and natural immunity. Experts believe that may occur sometime in the second half of 2021. By then a half million or more lives will have been lost just in the USA, hundreds of thousands of small businesses will have failed, millions remain unemployed and state & local governments will have severe budgetary problems; all caused by the pandemic.
Congress in lame duck session, the outgoing and incoming administrations are wrangling over what, if any, additional government economic support will be provided by the Federal Government for the flailing economy and localities. What and how much is enough remains the question being debated. More will likely be debated and instituted in 2021.
Insurance markets, ever countercyclical to the general economy, remain severely difficult to navigate. Although the layperson may reasonably expect insurance pricing to be reduced due to the terrible economic conditions, the opposite is actually true. Premiums continue to rise and capacity (the ability of insurance companies to offer coverage) continues to decline despite the inability of many policyholders, because of their diminished economics, to afford said premium increases. This likely is the worst “hard” insurance market in generations.
Covid-19 insurance claims continue to mount. Insurers continue to resist; however, a minority of such claims are experiencing some success in litigation. It is much too early in the process to predict how these will ultimately resolve.
The promise of the holiday season and hopes for the new year take on much more significance this year than with any other in our living memory. Yes, spring will arrive, followed by summer and brighter pandemic free days. We need to tough it out until then, at which point we need to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work to bring ourselves to what our latest “new normal” will be. Our post-pandemic normal will most certainly be different in many ways than how things were up until March 1, 2020 when the world changed.
Let us make the best of re-building that normal into something great!