Many of us here only began to hear about the pandemic early in March, and did not become better informed about its potential impact for weeks thereafter. Devastation to economies of nations around the world and the impact on families and their lives everywhere were brought more into focus as media outlets continually reported on the residual effects brought about by closures of factories and businesses, in addition to the mounting death tolls around the world.
The Industrial Revolution, which saw changes in agricultural, manufacturing, mining, transportation and technology, had a major effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of society as we know it today in 2020. Because of some of those changes, the coronavirus may not have hit global health as destructively as the plague did in the 14th Century, but its effects have had, and will continue to have, considerable impact.
COVID-19 has revealed weaknesses inherent in an interwoven global supply chain as it relates to manufacturing, as well as our expectations of “just-in-time” deliveries to the supermarkets we have become so reliant upon for our daily needs. The same obstacles to a “just-in-time” inventory system also has been seriously impacted by our manufacturing plants’ reliance on off-shore vendors during this last year, affecting a wide spectrum of industries, from vehicle manufacturing to home builders.
We all have had to make changes, both large and small, in our lives. Thankfully, technology itself has allowed us to minimize some of the impacts which lockdowns have had upon us personally.
Some of those most seriously impacted have been small entrepreneurial businesses that make up approximately 98% of all businesses in our country. Many located right here in our own community have been hit disproportionately hard.
Small businesses, such as restaurants and others that cater to our tourists and visitors, as well as clothing shops, hotels, rental agencies and retail outlets, have been seriously impacted. Employees have been laid off and businesses, because of their supply chain, have been equally adversely affected. Many of these are owned by your neighbors or employ your friends.
Our ability to stay in contact with family and friends has not been totally shutdown, as we have turned to the use of technology to stay in contact. FaceTime, Zoom and other social media and internet-based programs have allowed us to communicate with friends, relatives and grandchildren. These advances in technology have also helped to limit the isolation we may have felt. However, the despair we have felt due to not being able to attend important family events such as graduations, weddings and funerals has been heartbreaking at best.
Corporations have found that many of their employees have been able to work remotely, rather than from a cubicle at an office tower somewhere. This may have an impact down the road with regard to a reduction in the necessity for expensive office space. That same technology is being utilized instead of face-to-face contact for some types of physicians’ visits, to review test results and conduct other appointments not requiring in-office visitations.
In education, the results are somewhat mixed. The need for social interaction among children is an important portion of the educational, emotional, socialization and psychological experience of education. In addition, it is difficult for an instructor to evaluate the skill levels of a student who is remote to the classroom, as well as control the learning “atmosphere or environment” of a student’s home classroom.
With announcements over the last couple of weeks of anticipated approval of vaccines that eventually may be able to bring this terrible pandemic under control, we may have been given a wonderful Christmas present just a week ahead of one of our most joyous of holidays. As I write this column this week, the first shipments should be in process of being dispatched to those on the frontlines in this great battle.
In addition to our medical professionals who man the frontlines, first responders and facilities for the elderly should begin receiving initial doses of that medication which could begin to bring this terrible pandemic under control.
We all should be patient and continue to take all of the precautions recommended by those professionals who have helped to guide us through these trying times. Now is not a time for complacency, for the battle is far from over. Only through our own personal dedication to following the simple suggestions to safeguard our own health and safety, and the health and safety of others, can we see our way through to the completion of the task of ensuring that we finally put this terrible challenge behind us.