Right now, many are finding it hard to notice the signs of spring. And April may very well be the “cruelest month.” It may also be difficult to accept that what keeps us apart now will ultimately bring us closer together. But spring is here, and things will get better. The question is when.
Uncertainty has become the norm and the world is changing as we know it. Previous benchmarks and performance no longer apply. Businesses, education, and nonprofits are restructuring daily as they experience disruptive forces like never before. COVID- 19 is accelerating the move to online work and school environments; robotics automates across industries, and virtual marketplace and online delivery options are taking the place of brick and mortar retailers.
Working and learning from home may reverse the emergence of intercity living, thus reducing the need for large office and apartment facilities. Will this permanently change our world?
A recent Forbes’ article reports that September tuition payments may determine a college’s eventual viability. Colleges have already been struggling with lower enrollment numbers that have tested their ability to survive. The prospect of closures has become very real the longer sequestering continues.
Fear of an unseen enemy, human contact, job loss, savings depletion, and sequestering are also taking a toll on the nation’s mental health. Loss of normalcy and predictive schedules have taken away a sense of control. Disappointment in the cancellations of graduations, weddings, funerals and something as simple as major league and local sports, adds to anxiety. Insecurities do not have an easy outlet. Given that 20% of our population are already dealing with some type of stress, there may be an increase in substance abuse and depression. We may need to find new ways to cope.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Since this is a world-wide problem there may also be a silver lining. The planet’s most brilliant minds are relentlessly working around the clock on solutions that are changing healthcare and its delivery faster and better than anyone could have ever imagined. There are dozens of leading companies that have or will have a vaccine in human clinical trials. There are also promising remedies being tested as we speak. There is even evidence that when a vaccine is developed, a single dose, rather than a yearly flu vaccine, would be needed to prevent a further occurrence. The emergence of tele-healthcare and tele-therapy are rapidly growing in use. Remote diagnosis and treatment are being normalized. New technologies are emerging, and current ones are being adapted and deployed at an astounding rate. Businesses, governments, nonprofits, schools, and families are connecting via Cisco Webex, Zoom, etc. to meet, vote, conduct business, fundraise, invest, teach and… draw closer together. It is inspiring to observe the unleashing of innovation as this global menace tries to wrestle us to the ground. History has shown, however, that we are at our strongest whenever we are severely challenged.
People Helping People
Mr. Rogers said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” America is the most generous country on earth. Its people are helpful and compassionate. We find heroes in everyday people lending a hand to each other and their neighbors. They are stepping up to shop and deliver to the elderly and infirm. PPE supplies are being made at home and donated by the thousands. Go Fund me pages are being created for the sick and their families, providing thousands of dollars of financial support. Truckers are delivering critical goods; postal workers are delivering our mail; grocery workers are stocking shelves; manufacturers are producing much needed products; first responders and the medical community are on the front lines, putting themselves in harm’s way every day. They remind us that we are all in this together. Together we will overcome the challenge before us and be stronger for it.