The Covid Effect

It’s been a year (give or take a couple weeks) since the initial cases of Covid-19 were reported in the city of Wuhan. A little more than a month later, the first documented cases would appear in the US and we were given warnings this would turn into a global pandemic. In the following months, the Coronavirus overwhelmed our culture impacting every American – some through getting sick but most through changes in lifestyle. 

When states begin implementing various orders to wear masks or close non-essential businesses, we thought it would only be a few weeks and life would get back to normal. Spring and summer passed with the pandemic dominating headlines, controlling American life, and a menagerie of state or municipality protections remaining in place. Now in autumn with winter upon us, we’re seeing new government measures issued to try and contain this virus and it seems things will never be the same. 

It’s obvious the shelter in place directives interrupted the way Americans live, work, and play. The three Es of education, employment, and entertainment all drastically altered how they exist and operate. When this pandemic is over (and it will be over eventually) it’s likely some of the changes in our lifestyle will never return to the way it was before. 

But is that a bad thing? 

There is cause for concern, elements of American culture in need of repair. We’re facing an enormous mental health crisis as isolation is not good for the human psyche. There is a generation of school kids falling behind as they’re missing essential learning while schools are scrambling to prevent making the pandemic worse. The masses of newly unemployed workers will need to find new jobs. Many who contracted Covid-19 and recovered have been and will be suffering long term effects of the virus. 

There is also reason for hope. Fewer pollutants have been released into our atmosphere and waterways because less people are travelling. Reduced exhaust and fossil fuel usage means we’re breathing cleaner air; rivers and lakes are clearer. People are paying better attention to basic hygiene – doing the things they should have always been doing like washing their hands frequently, sanitizing high use surfaces, exercising, spending time in the wilderness, and eating at home instead of getting fast food. There’s a greater attention on science and increased appreciation for nurses and doctors. Individuals are investing in acts of kindness and generosity in ways to inspire and renew faith in humanity. 

In this pandemic, as with most things, both the good and the bad inhabit the same space. 

But what about the post Corona life? What lasting affect will Covid have on our culture? With a few different possible vaccines on the horizon, I think it might be beneficial to speculate on what our world will be like after life returns to normal. Or if it ever will be normal again. 

Since business as usual went on lockdown last spring, corporate America adjusted. In the process, we learned to use technology to our advantage, canceling non-essential meetings and moving important group conversations into virtual spaces like Zoom or Google Meet. Employers got creative giving more employees the option to work from home. New remote jobs became available. Those still working on site have been encouraged to stay home when they’re sick. These are changes to American life I hope never return to the way things were before. 

I am optimistic supervisors, managers, directors, and CEOs everywhere have learned some things are better for an email and not every idea is worth a half hour meeting in a conference room. I wish for telecommuting becomes more prevalent as it will make our workforce larger and more diverse. More people working is good for the economy and more people working from home is good for the environment. Side note: I don’t miss my 25 minute commute to the office. I hope more people consider the health of their neighbors, friends, and colleagues before leaving the home with flulike symptoms. As much as we all hate wearing masks, people should keep them – not to wear indefinitely, but for times of illness. Maybe if people wore masks any time they were sick, we would live in a healthier society by limiting the spread of the flu, common cold, and other contagious diseases.
(psst, wear a mask) 

Still, there are things I miss in this Covid world. When this is all over, I hope some elements from our former lives resume as soon as possible. I miss concerts and movie theaters. I miss hanging out in coffee shops. I miss seeing smiles on strangers’ faces. I miss parades and festivals and farmers markets. Of everything we’ve lost, there is experience I miss more than anything else and I hope it isn’t gone forever: the samples at Costco. 

Please bring back the samples as soon as it is safe to do so.

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