These are unchartered waters.
I don’t think anyone could have imagined that 2020 would have unfolded with the worse pandemic of our lifetime causing the highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression.
Prior to COVID19, I think most people felt that things were good but there was something off. The world just felt out of balance. Insane politics, trade wars with China, 19 years of war in the Middle East, and a growing economic divide between the haves and the have notes.
None of that seems important right now. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or how much money you have, COVID19 is the great equalizer.
At the heart of the current pandemic is a total failure and underestimation of the actual virus. The United States, grossly ignored intelligence from China and other places in Asia that initially indicated that this virus was real, deadly and highly contagious. In fact, President Trump’s early, cavalier messaging likely set the wrong tone for many Americans and lulled people into a false sense of security. Then the President refused to follow the guidance of the Pentagon and top health officials when it was recommended he issue a “Shelter in Place” order 3 weeks ago for the entire Nation. He had the executive powers, but simply chickened out and failed to act. This has resulted in Governors and Mayors having to make State and City decisions that in many places have been too slow.
These errors are now likely going to result in many more deaths and a much longer and lasting adverse impact on the economy.
Economically, this will create a permanent shift in consumer behavior. People have begun to understand the power of Direct-to-Consumer. Our little company, Greensbury Market, sold more in the month of March than ever before. Restaurants and bars have been absolutely crushed. Massage therapists, personal trainers, hairstylists, etc are all struggling to figure out how to make ends meet. And while the government stimulus is a nice gesture, it is unlikely that its enough to help many of these people. They also need forbearance for their mortgage payment, rent, credit cards, etc.
While all of these aforementioned comments outline a fairly dire situation, let’s focus on the positives.
First and foremost, families are home, together and spending valuable time together. While homeschooling, cooking, and cleaning don’t always sound like fun, it is a blessing to have this time to focus on genuine connections.
Second, Zoom and Facetime are allowing people to connect no matter how far apart they may be. I’ve been doing Pilates via Facetime, I did Shabbat with my community in NYC via Zoom and I’ve been to countless birthday parties and happy hours also hosted on Zoom.
Third, the young are reaching out and engaging their elders. I am encouraged how people are making an effort to check on their Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and make sure they are well. They definitely appreciate it.
Fourth, people are re-evaluating who and what is really important in life. This period of Shelter in Place is a good time to meditate and reflect on what matters.
Last, I am really happy to see the way communities and neighbors are pulling together. From getting groceries for the elderly woman at the end of the street to families going on daily walks and saying hello to their neighbors (6 feet away). It makes me feel like there is hope for our future.
I’d like to acknowledge all the health care workers, first responders, and volunteers who are battling this virus every day on the frontlines. We do appreciate all that you do, the risks and the emotional pain you are enduring.
Let’s stay positive. Call that person you’ve been thinking about but haven’t reached out to. Try and do something productive every day.
Remember, we will get through this. What matters is how we live on the other side.