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Baker: Socialization Sacrificed for COVID-19 Safety

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BRAINTREE, Mass. — Gov. Charlie Baker says he spends less time with the lieutenant governor these days yet they talk far more often. 
 
It's an example of how the state will have to navigate this new normal — giving up the physical and social elements of teamwork but keeping remote contact.
 
"It's the loss of the socialization issues, and the sense of team, and the sense of community that comes with those opportunities to sit together and talk about what's going on with your family or what's going on with your work and what's going on generally that we're going to have to deal with," he said at Wednesday's briefing. "And I think that's going to be true for a lot of us as we all move forward."
 
The governor and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito toured the family-owned Symmons Industries to see examples of how the plumbing parts manufacturer is adapting to the guidelines for reopening during the pandemic that were set out on Monday. (No briefing was held on Tuesday.)
 
Two years ago, Baker and Polito had toured the 80-year-old manufacturer and spoke to 150 people in the building's lobby. This time was quite different, he noted, as Symmons has been instituting industry specific guidelines to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.  
 
"During the past 80 years, many world events presented challenges to our business, but never before have we been faced with a challenge as great as the cobia crisis," said Timothy O'Keeffe, chief executive officer at Symmons Industries and grandson of the founder. "The unique combination of trying to keep a business stable, while at the same time keeping your team safe and healthy is unprecedented."
 
Symmons, precision plumbing fixtures manufacturer, pivoted to producing personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as developing touchless microbial keys and a water management platform for hotels.
 
Baker said he had been told that the employees expected changes with operating within a pandemic, but the hardest part had been the loss of easy socialization in the cafeteria. 
 
"One of the major challenges that we will all face going forward on this, not just here at Simmons but in workplaces across the commonwealth and as a country, is some of that intimacy ... that is so much a part of the shared commitment to work," he said. "And that is going to be the way it is going to be for some period of time here until we get to the point where we have treatments for a vaccine."
 
Symmons has also continued to implement policies including wearing masks, using gloves as necessary, regular sanitizing and hand-washing, staggering schedules and social distancing. 
 
"All of us, employers, workers, customers and community leaders, continue to have a role in pushing back against the virus," said Baker. "Symmons stands as a strong example of how this can be done safely and responsibly."
 
The "Reopening Massachusetts" four-phased plan includes industry specific guidelines for safe operations. Essential businesses already open can continue following the plan; non-essential businesses can begin opening starting on Monday, May 5. 
 
Businesses self-certify that they are complying with new rules by developing a COVID-19 control plan and displaying a signed attestation poster in a place on premises visible to employees and visitors.
 
"In addition to the safety standards that we've highlighted for manufacturing, a specific checklist was developed to ensure that businesses and their managers may may remain compliant," said Polito. "This is really important because we want workers to feel and be safer when they come back to their jobs, and also for the customers for the people visiting and coming in and out of these workplaces that they also are."
 
Included in the guidelines is the recommendation for businesses that can to allow employees to work remotely. Baker said he and Polito are positive about the number of businesses that were going to continue along those lines. 
 
"We the commonwealth happened to be one of those," he said. "I certainly believe it's absolutely the right thing to do with respect to with COVID and all the guidelines."
 
Baker stressed that the public health data will continue to inform the phased rollout as well as businesses' abilities to obtain the necessary protective equipment and other supplies. Resources for businesses and organizations are available on the Reopening Massachusett's website
 
"The goal of phased reopening is to methodically allow businesses services and activities to resume, while avoiding a resurgence of COVID-19 that could overwhelm the health-care system and erase much of the progress that we've all made so far," said the governor. 

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Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life

Submitted by Edward Jones

As an investor, you will always need to deal with risk of some kind. But how can you manage the risk that has been made clear by the recent volatility in the financial markets? The answer to this question may depend on where you are in life. 

Let's look at some different life stages and how you might deal with risk at each of them: 

• When you are first starting out: If you are early in your career, with perhaps four or even five decades to go until you retire, you can likely afford to invest primarily for growth, which also means you will be taking on a higher level of risk, as risk and reward are positively correlated. But, given your age, you have time to overcome the market downturns that are both inevitable and a normal part of investing. Consequently, your risk tolerance may be relatively high. Still, even at this stage, being over-aggressive can be costly. 

• When you are in the middle stages: At this time of your life, you are well along in your career, and you are probably working on at least a couple of financial goals, such as saving for retirement and possibly for your children's college education. So, you still need to be investing for growth, which means you likely will need to maintain a relatively high risk tolerance. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have some balance in your portfolio, so you will want to consider a mix of investments that align with each of your goals. 

• When you are a few years from retirement: Now, you might have already achieved some key goals – perhaps your kids have finished college and you have paid off your mortgage. This may mean you have more money available to put away for retirement, but you still will have to think carefully about how much risk you are willing to take. Since you’re going to retire soon, you might consider rebalancing your portfolio to include some more conservative investments, whose value is less susceptible to financial market fluctuations. The reason? In just a few years, when you are retired, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your investment portfolio – essentially, you will be selling investments, so, as much as possible, you will want to avoid selling them when their price is down. Nonetheless, having a balanced and diversified portfolio doesn't fully protect against a loss. However, you can further reduce the future risk of being overly dependent on selling variable investments by devoting a certain percentage of your portfolio to cash and cash equivalents and designating this portion to be used for your daily expenses during the years immediately preceding, and possibly spilling into, your retirement. 

• When you are retired: Once you are retired, you might think you should take no risks at all. But you could spend two or three decades in retirement, so you may need some growth potential in your portfolio to stay ahead of inflation. Establishing a withdrawal rate – the amount you take out each year from your investments – that's appropriate for your lifestyle and projected longevity can reduce the risk of outliving your money. Of course, if there's an extended market downturn during any time of your retirement, you may want to lower your withdrawal rate temporarily. 

As you can see, your tolerance for risk, and your methods of dealing with it, can change over time. By being aware of this progression, you can make better-informed investment decisions.

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