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Awhile ago I posted how even applying the good lessons from the coronavirus will change life and the economy – in this case, work from home. Sure we learned a lot of good things, but applying them would involve massive changes to our lives. So now I’d like to talk health.
It may seem that we’ve sort of learned the obvious lessons about the coronavirus – social distancing, masks, and all that. But let me be blunt.
Avoiding people when sick, washing your hands, masks during periods of disease would have been REALLY GREAT IDEAS TO DO ALL ALONG. I say this as a person who over the years has found his co-workers dragging in diseases and infecting entire teams.
Now imagine in a future where we’ve got the coronavirus vaccine but also we apply our lessons about health. A dose of hypochondria from the coronavirus may motivate us for many years, but we’ve also learned some damned good behaviors for, say, cold and flu season.
But what would those involve?
WORKING FROM HOME MORE: I’ve covered this, but bluntly, during periods of disease more people should stay home, work from home, etc. That of course means all the things I’ve mentioned before – but also “seasons” of sudden shifts in how people work. That’s going to be disruptive, leading to things like changing office arrangements, hours, or even part-time use of buildings.
USE OF MASKS: Handy things, really. Despite the bizarre politicization of basic health behaviors, I think masks are here to stay. I’m already seeing fashionable masks. So I expect more mask wearing – and more politicization, sadly.
BETTER HYGIENE: Well there’s little downside to this, but more hand-washing, house-cleaning, etc. is a good idea. That means more products for such in demand, with potential runs or shortages or over-purchases. I suppose the biggest impact is dermatitis.
RULES FOR BUSINESSES: We’ve learned the benefits of social distancing, but imagine these coming back in every cold and flu season. Or “senior hours” being maintained at stores simply for the health benefits. This means some businesses may restrict themselves seasonally.
BUSINESS CHANGES: I can’t even begin to predict all the impacts, so simple to say the coronavirus has led businesses to consider other models, such as many restaurants acting as grocery stores. Some of these changes have permanent health benefits, and may stay around or become seasonal.
CHANGES TO GATHERINGS: Imagine big conventions, sporting events, etc. and how they’ll change now that we’re more health conscious. Temperature checks. Moving events to avoid disease seasons. Mask requirements. Some things may not make sense anymore to even keep.
PERSONAL HABITS: I can’t see myself returning to a gym for months if not a year – and now that I’ve changed my workouts do I want to? I’m not sure I need to, so how many other personal habits will I change? Will others change? What businesses does that affect?
PERSONAL EVENTS: When’s the next time you want to host a 20 person get together? I think people may shift to more health-conscious events, smaller gatherings but also more virtual gatherings. I suppose its a good time to work at Zoom or Discord.
MORE ATTENTION: Coronavirus is a damned scary thing and its got people paying attention to medical issues. That’s good. It also means more hypochondria and more attention to conspiracy theories and more doctors rolling their eyes.
A NEED FOR MORE MEDICAL PEOPLE: Alone a lot of doctors and nurses and first responders are burnt out and tired. We’re going to need more people to help them, replace those we lost or who are retiring, and to deal with increased demand from a wounded and concerned public. There’s career options here, but also for sad reasons.
A DESIRE TO RETURN TO NORMAL: Which won’t happen. The US coronavirus response was dismal, and revealed our health system and general health habits were the same. Some people will want to go back to normal, and next cold and flu season, even with a coronavirus vaccine it won’t go well.
So I’m glad we’re probably more aware of health. I’m really hopeful to see a coronavirus vaccine in the next 18 months if not sooner, and perhaps protective measures before that. But I’m also aware applying the lessons learned will be a shake up.
We’re not going back to the way we were. That way doesn’t apply, but also kinda wasn’t so hot.