21 Jun Three Months and Counting: What We’ve Learned During the COVID Lockdown
It’s been three months since we began sheltering in place. We assumed we’d be back to our happy little routines within a few weeks. How naïve we were. We now know that our happy little routines will be disrupted for a long time to come.
Along the way we’ve learned that:
There’s a deep well of generosity and a strong sense of community among us
- LVMH shut down perfume production and began producing hand sanitizer. Cable companies offered free wifi for homebound students.
- In my own community, volunteers organized grocery runs for those who couldn’t drive or get to the stores.
- Wellness checks included neighbors dropping off care packages and casseroles. For the elderly, this virus quickly could become dangerous and isolating.
- In Ohio, the Cleveland Clinic was struggling to find protective face masks for its 55,000 employees. A call to Abe Troyer, a local Amish community leader, resulted in 60 home seamstresses teaming to sew 12 thousand masks in two days. “If there is a need, people just show up,” said Mr. Troyer.
We really are all in this together
This disease freely roams the globe. It won’t be over until everyone is vaccinated. Our government talks about a vaccine by year’s end, but this virus mutates. Will the virus we develop today work on the virus that evolves tomorrow? No one knows, though the government has committed $1.2B to drug company AstraZeneca to develop a vaccine.
Expertise and government matter
There’s a reason why we have government and policies. It’s important to hire smart, experienced people, to build teams who know how to execute in a crisis. We really can’t underestimate the importance of strong leadership, experience and expertise. We’ve learned an important lesson: Crisis is inevitable, it’s how you deal with it that matters.
We can learn from others
What if we took a page from New Zealand, a tiny country whose population is less than that of the Bay Area? New Zealand is cautiously COVID-free, thanks to smart leadership. They’re all over renewable energy–79% of their electricity comes from renewable, and their goal is to be 90% renewable by 2025. Think about that. An entire country working toward an environmentally conscious goal. What if we did that? What if America’s collective creativity were directed toward renewable energy? We could own this and lead the world.
Some amazing things are emerging from this crisis
We’ve learned about our own resilience, resourcefulness and ingenuity. We’ve:
- Gotten to know our families again and hopelessly spoiled our pets.
- Reduced pollution. We can do this. Venice’s canals are clearer than they’ve been in 20 years.
- Learned new languages. My neighbor can’t stop baking. It’s endless–gardening, knitting, sewing, painting and canning. These close-to-the-earth kinds of activities are somehow life-affirming.
- Rediscovered our creativity and inventiveness. Skype book clubs, Periscope jam sessions, live-streamed yoga classes and worship services. We’ve Zoomed everything imaginable—from art classes, happy hours and dinner parties to weddings and memorial services.
- Gone back to using the internet as it was meant to be used. A way to connect, share information and come up with creative solutions to pressing problems. There’s a kind of pioneer spirt about this—the kind of thing that surfaces when the power goes off for an extended period.
We’ve found inventive new ways to transact business, but something is missing
Many of these activities represent positive change that will transcend COVID. But we all want our lives back. We want to be around people again. To be in a crowded restaurant or bar, to go to movies, concerts and events. To have the freedom to hop on an airplane and travel. To meet new people, to be free to reach out and shake hands. To connect. We want to hug our friends again! Despite our agility and reliance on our online channels, we’ve learned that the need for human connection remains a powerful, driving force.
And that’s one of the good things to emerge from our lockdown. We’ll get through this. Stay safe.
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