By Dr. Kandis Y. Wyatt, PMP
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics
The coronavirus pandemic has been a global catastrophe, affecting every man, woman and child for the past two years. Originally detected in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has spread to every continent and continues to mutate, and 20 named variants to date have highlighted the virus’s efficiency at overcoming immune system defenses.
Another grim milestone is expected to be reached over the next week. The number of COVID-19 related deaths in the United States will surpass 802,000, and the number of total cases will exceed 50.8 million.
Now, the Omicron variant has been confirmed in over 25 U.S. states. News reports continue to highlight the devastation that has resulted from COVID-19. However, there may be some positive reactions, which have developed over time, to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We Were Able to Develop Emergency Use Vaccines Quickly
To combat COVID-19, researchers were able to develop emergency use vaccines that have decreased the rate of coronavirus deaths and community spread. Although the vaccinations were not 100% effective for everyone, they have allowed more people to survive COVID-19, which is promising news.
More People Worldwide Are Practicing Good Hygiene
Who thought that in 2020, we’d be teaching adults how to wash their hands? We’ve learned that good hygiene and cleanliness really make the difference in combating a disease like COVID-19.
There have been global campaigns to encourage social distancing, hand washing, vaccines and mask wearing. In addition, common public facilities such as airports, restaurants and hotels have implemented stringent measures to decrease the spread of germs.
More People Are Seeking Outdoor Adventures
While global travel has decreased due to COVID-19, local and state travel have increased. People have traded exotic destinations for more local outdoor experiences.
For instance, state and national parks have recorded an exponential increase in visitors since the pandemic began in March 2020. Recreational vehicle (RV) purchases have skyrocketed, and outdoor adventures such as camping and hiking have become extremely popular.
Staycations and Home Improvements Are More Popular
Staycations are socially acceptable alternatives to traveling abroad. Staycations are cheaper and less of a hassle, and they can be tailored to suit your personal interest and lifestyle.
Also, many people have focused on making their daily living space more enjoyable through home improvements. In addition, homebound activities due to the pandemic have increased the demand for specialty items, such as gaming consoles, massagers and household appliances. People may be traveling less, but they are finding ways to make home life more enjoyable.
Data Collection and Sharing Have Been Improved
Our knowledge of the coronavirus has exponentially increased over the past two years, thanks to data collection and sharing. Having accurate information that is collected consistently is an important way to identify trends, challenges, and improvements. Scientific data played a large role in developing the vaccines that have slowed the spread of COVID-19.
There Is a Greater Feeling of Global Unity
The coronavirus pandemic has united us globally in finding a cure. Because COVID-19 has affected every continent and every country, there has been a surge in global awareness of this health crisis from a social, economic, and human standpoint.
Countries are working toward developing strategies to ensure herd immunity for everyone. This effort includes an international push to provide emergency measures to address the spread of COVID-19, now and in the future, to bring a permanent end to COVID-19.
We Have a Cleaner Environment
Companies had to pivot during the pandemic and switch from in-person to remote operations, which drastically lowered the number of daily commuters and vehicle emissions. Ridership on subways and buses also decreased, and vehicle emissions from these methods of transportation dropped as well.
As a result, vehicle emissions have dropped 30% in the last year. Less air pollution is a drastic improvement toward a cleaner environment.
There Is a Greater Use of Technology
More and more people, businesses and support services are utilizing technology. Remote deliveries, ordered through online websites and apps, have increased to ensure the safety of both customers and delivery people.
Also, there are more tools and software to help people do business and interact remotely, such as contactless payment options and remote work platforms. Video platforms such as Zoom have become a household name. In addition, 3D printers have enabled many people in remote locations to create the items they need.
There’s also the importance of reducing the digital divide between different levels of our society. There has been a renewed interest for free broadband access for everyone, because of the global dependence on the internet.
Many People Are Reassessing Their Careers
The latest jobs report shows more and more people are quitting their jobs. The resignation rate is at a two-decade high and has been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” There’s even a hashtag for people to highlight their experience:#iquitmyjob.
There are multiple reasons why people are quitting their jobs at this time: unsafe workplaces, a new outlook on life, the pursuit of promotion or a change in their personal circumstances. For people who have experienced a loss related to COVID-19 or who have become infected, there is a renewed outlook on living life to the fullest and showing gratitude for what you have.
There Is an Interest in Learning New Life Skills
Enrollment in online academic courses has steadily increased in the past two years, in large part due to the pandemic. Developing marketable skills is important; as a result, there’s been a surge in distance learning.
The renewed interest in distance learning is due to a variety of reasons, such as personal interests, the desire to complete a certification or degree, and professional development. Likewise, non-traditional routes to learn a new skill are evident in the renewed popularity of self-help and life skill videos on YouTube.
Pet Ownership and Foster Care Have Seen a Spike
The number of pet owners also increased over the past two years. With the spike in the number of people working from home, and as a result, more people had time to devote to a four-legged friend.
Similarly, more people volunteered to foster pets, which kept those animals out of shelters as well. Pets provide emotional support as well, so adopting a pet is a win-win situation for both the pet and pet owner.
While we are not out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID-19, the past two years have brought some positive developments from the pandemic, including a renewed focus on technology, global unity and an understanding that life is precious. We should all live our lives to the fullest and recognize that tomorrow is what you make of it.