There are times when being “in the moment” can cloud one’s ability to clearly assess that moment. I believe we are in one of those right now.
The COVID-19 virus is uncharted waters for most of us - a global pandemic that is almost impossible to completely wrap our brains around. Until, of course, we do...when a teacher at your son’s high school tests positive and all local schools close. Or your daughter comes home from college two months early because the school moves all courses to online-only. Or when you actually read details about exactly what happened in Italy, when an entire country was essentially shut down.
By now we’ve all lost count of the number of conference, show, and event cancellations that have happened. Topping that is the fact you can’t find a college or pro sporting event to attend, as there aren’t any being played. These were tough decisions - until you consider that COVID-19 cases in Italy went from a few hundred to some 11,000 in less than two weeks due a very slow initial reaction to the virus. You light a small fire in your basement and leave the house for a while…. you come back to a pile of ashes.
The only way to help combat this virus is to limit contagion, and the only way to limit contagion is for millions of people to change their daily behavior. While I’ll agree this isn’t always easy, it’s the least we can do, and the best way to meet these changes and challenges is through collective precaution, patience and perseverance.
Some scary numbers are being discussed by world leaders of late. Here in the U.S., former CDC director Tom Frieden tossed out a worst-case COVID-19 forecast, that he added was not implausible, saying half the U.S. population could be infected and more than 1 million people could die. Got my attention.
While numbers such as these have a tendency to create panic, that’s most certainly not the reaction Friedan is looking for. And, for the most part, we’re not seeing panic. Instead we are seeing a commitment to prudence. People are now far more mindful of the importance of safeguarding themselves and their families and of the importance of ensuring that any risks we take don't pose a threat to others, particularly the elderly. That’s a silver lining, if ever there was one.
I’m also happy to add that I’m not in any conversations anymore that begin with, “It’s just a flu, calm down.”
The chance we were given to contain this virus when it first surfaced has not been ignored. The U.S. reacted admirably, by sacrificing billions of dollars in an effort to avoid large gatherings of people by cancelling events - in business, sports, entertainment, you name it. It was difficult, it was costly, it was even shocking - but it was powerful, it was necessary and, quite simply, history will show it was the right thing to do.
Here’s to getting back to normal, to getting back to business and to feeling good again.