We have the opportunity to make a big, one-time impact on the economy of Madison.

The coronavirus has not infected many people in Lake County yet (our third case was reported Thursday morning). The economy has certainly taken a hit across many sectors, but we haven't had nearly as many people laid off as in most parts of the country.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by the president, is sending checks to citizens across America. There are roughly 13,000 people in Lake County, about 10,000 adults and 3,000 children. With some exceptions, adults will receive $1,200 each, while families with children will receive $500 for each child.

Our quick calculation indicates that about $13.5 million is being sent to people in Lake County right now. That's regardless of whether they are still working (again, few layoffs in Lake County) or retired (Social Security and the state pension plan are still making full payments). For those who have been laid off, state and federal unemployment checks are being sent as well.

What we do with the $13.5 million is up to us. Imagine the positive impact if it is spent in Lake County. It could be used to fix up a house, shop at local stores, order takeout from local restaurants, or donate to a worthy local charity. All of these expenditures would be multiplied when the recipient, in turn, spends the money in Lake County.

Let's not send this one-time money away. Wal-Mart and Amazon will survive without our help. But we can help local businesses or nonprofits survive and help our neighbors and ourselves at the same time.

-- Jon M. Hunter