Many of us have been perplexed by the mixed messages we have received regarding the prevention, treatment, and economics of COVID-19. But a lot has become clearer since we originally wrote about the coronavirus in late February. Importantly, we now know that it’s possible to stop the spread of the virus and safely re-open the economy. Cooperation is the key.

A little background on how a virus works can help us understand what we each can do to end the first wave and reduce the likelihood of a potential second wave. Viruses cannot live on their own, they need a human being to remain alive and to reproduce. COVID-19 commandeers a persons “machinery” when it enters our eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, injects itself into our cells, and makes more virus.

If we can keep the virus away from a person, the virus will die. If we wash our hands, don’t touch our faces, and wear masks, we can keep the virus away from the places in us that it needs to survive. We now know that a mask will keep us from unknowingly spreading a virus to another person. Despite being uncomfortable and seeming ridiculous, a mask will protect our family, friends, and neighbors, and will show that we care. (An N95 mask is preferred if you are able to obtain one. Visit cdc.gov for reliable up-to-date information.)

Just as the virus can’t live without humans, neither can the economy. Personal consumption – or human spending – drives two-thirds of the overall economy. Stated simply, unemployed people have less available to spend.

While U.S. stocks have rallied from their March lows, ongoing volatility accentuates just how unpredictable the markets can be in short periods of time. Nervousness about a potential second wave of the virus led to a 5.9% drop in the S&P 500 index. A second wave would certainly reverse the positive economic trends we have recently enjoyed.

Keeping people healthy is the key to economic recovery. We hope we can all get behind the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask to help our friends and family get back to, and stay back at work.