The Three Waves of Coronavirus

Kris Dunn Benefits, Change, Change Management, Employee Communications, Employee Relations, Leadership, Managing People 0 Comments

It’s crazy how in spite of forewarning from the other side of the world, how coronavirus seems to have snuck up on the USA. Just a week or two ago I knew several well informed colleagues, family and friends scoff at the thought that it could become anything more than “another flu bug” and that it surely wouldn’t have any substantial impact here in America.

Now, thousands have contracted the virus, millions of people are in lock down, and there is an unexplainable shortage of toilet paper. Ah, how the world changed so quickly.

So what do I have to tell you about corona virus that you haven’t already heard? Nothing, admittedly. But I will say this (and not in a doomsday tone), it will take months or years for us to fully recover. Because this isn’t some fast moving fad that floods in, and then retreats just as quickly. No, corona virus will impact the world for generations.

The way I see it there are three waves of this corona virus that all of us will have to see our way through and find a way to cope with. Only one of which we’ve really started to get our arms around.

Health Wave – The first wave is the health aspect of dealing with a pandemic. The sheer and utter impact of people we know and love contracting the virus. Most will recover, but some won’t. And it’s really hard to do all the right things to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Stay at home, keep at least 6′ from anyone, don’t go to a movie or go out to dinner? That’s hard. That, and re-learning that we all need to practice better germ fighting/spreading practices. Be honest, how many of us washed our hands 6-12 times per day scrubbing vigorously for at least 20 seconds?! Surgeons excepted, almost none of us. So once we get a handle on the health related impact of corona virus, along comes the next wave …

Economic Wave – We are just beginning to see the financial impact of protecting ourselves from this virus. Social distancing means businesses are closing, people aren’t working, and the economy coming to a screeching halt. Any government subsidy, stimulus or bailout program offered to try to offset this economic slow down will have little impact. After all we are talking about 156 million people who work in the US alone. How long does $1,000 last in your bank account? Not long for sure. Many small businesses won’t survive. Big businesses will lay off staff, unemployment will spike. Again, not doomsday just the consequence of shutting down our economic cycle in order to fend off this virus. And finally another wave that many haven’t even yet considered …

Mental Wave – I’ve started to see jokes about this wave. “If I’m quarantined with my wife for two weeks and I die, it wasn’t corona virus”. A hint of truth in all good humor. I’ve told others that it’s like Thanksgiving when family is thrown together for a few days over turkey. You can survive for a few days in close proximity to your family. But for a few months? Yeah, shelter in place (states in lock down) and self quarantine is a little like Thanksgiving for months – only without sports on the television or the turkey! How will people react to not going to work, not going out, not going to the gym or a movie. It’s going to be challenging to say the least. We are about to have a pandemic of stir crazy that we are going to have to deal with.

Sorry to disappoint but this post isn’t going to end with tips on how overcome these waves and ride them with the freedom and style of a pro surfer. Nope. I’m not a doctor, I’m not an economist, and I’m not a psychologist. I’m just a middle aged husband, father and HR guy who just like you is cooped up in my house with my family (and a sufficient supply of toilet paper, thankfully) writing for cathartic reasons during a little bit of my own alone time.

I’m hoping you and yours are safe, healthy and making the most of your mandated or self-elected quarantine. And with plenty of toilet paper so you don’t need to find an alternative use for this post.

This post first appeared on Ed Baldwin’s LinkedIn account. Go invite Ed to connect here.

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