COVID-19 Interest Group
May 18, 2020
Where are we now? And more importantly what is the Shape of the Future? By Tina Etcheverry
We are in Phase I of this COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve learned to commute to our own kitchens to test out old recipes for carrot bread or try our hands at béarnaise sauce. We put on facemasks to go outside, although it is only to the corner to see if the trees are flowering. We’ve learned to live a remote life, checking in with grandkids and fellow Rotarians on Zoom or Face Time. We are reading again, cleaning out closets, dusting off old vinyl and going crazy watching one more 2012 World Series game (baseball). But the Giants always win.
We have new vocabulary words: “zoom”, “social distancing”, “remote learning”. Meanwhile the United States is reaching a plateau of unspeakable tragedy with 1,500,000 COVID-19 cases and 88,000 deaths. We are waiting to see if the other shoe is going to drop. It’s very stressful.
This week we will move into Phase II.
California counties can open on Monday that have met the requirements of falling number of COVID-19 cases, and demonstrate adequate hospital capacity and have trained people to do contact tracing.
Malls and outlet stores can provide curbside pick-up for people who order online or by phone. Facemasks will be mandatory, even for servers and cooking staff at restaurants. Seating indoors will be a spacious 6 feet apart. You can expect some street and parking lot closures to allow restaurants to expand for outdoor seating. Workspaces in office settings and light manufacturing will incorporate Plexiglas partitions between workers. Everywhere will be temperature checks on employees and customers, and facemasks will be ubiquitous.
This is just a small taste of the Shape of the Future.
We won’t be giving casual hugs or even shaking hands anytime soon. Our favorite restaurants or bars may never open again. Small business will declare bankruptcies since this has accelerated their problems. We will see FOR LEASE signs everywhere. We may be watching a worldwide recession unfold. Large gatherings at churches, sporting events, theaters or community centers will not happen this year. So we can’t do what we used to do. We will have to adopt new habits and find pleasure in trying out new things (like watching opera on your laptop or poetry slams on zoom.
But there are positive dividends we can bank on.
With work-at-home and fewer cars on the road, the air is cleaner. Streets are being turned over for bicyclists and joggers. Education and learning has become high tech. Every student is now provided with a computer and school districts have scrambled to provide Wi-Fi for everyone. More companies are offering paid sick leave to their employees. And older employees are embracing offers of early retirement. 20,000 jobs are now available to job seekers to become pandemic sleuths. Pharmacies will become sites of viral testing. Routine healthcare will be performed by telecare without having to leave your home. Most of all people are doing good, helping out their neighbors, sharing resources, and getting to know their spouses and children better. It’s not quite lemonade, but we were handed a real lemon.