One thing that history has taught us over and over is that global catastrophes, disasters, and pandemics have often been the catalyst for change. From The Spanish Flu to the Black Death, and Smallpox, these devastating diseases have brought about major medical advancements and the realization that life as we know it will often bring permanent awareness and changes. COVID-19 is no different.
Healthcare mobilization advanced during the pandemic. Simultaneous testing and vaccination sites provided state-of-the-art mobile labs, while supplies, resources, and staff acted quickly on the front lines.
Tele-healthcare saw a rapid escalation as patients and healthcare professionals alike saw the benefits of healthcare diagnosis and treatment through remote admissions, thus avoiding further exposure, saving time, and increase access to care without patient demand on facilities. Telehealth visits saw a 50% increase during the first quarter of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Above all, the healthcare industry realized how collaboration can bring new products to market quickly. The importance of data sharing, resource allocation, and patient-centric approaches has propelled efficiency and speed to clinical trials.
Mental Health and Socialization
Fear, sadness, stress, and anxiety rose in response to financial and health uncertainties from COVID-19. Mandates and restrictions from COVID-19 led to increased isolation from loved ones and social activities.
Front-line and essential workers got hit with exposure, long hours, mental burnout, patient death surges, and the emotional weight of work-life balance. From June to September 2020, Mental Health America (MHA) collected survey responses from over 1,000 healthcare workers. Stress, anxiety, and frustration were the top three feelings while emotional exhaustion, trouble with sleep, physical exhaustion, and work-related dread saw a rapid increase within the three months.
Teachers, parents, and school-aged children had to pivot with the ever-changing education challenges with technology, remote learning, and lack of social interaction and activity. “Pandemic parenting” brought new meaning to work-life balance, as families had to juggle time between learning and earning.
The New Workplace
Perhaps the most monumental change from COVID-19 was how the workforce could transition the way we do our jobs and manage our companies. Social distancing and restrictions forced workplaces to shift to remote work without a significant drop in productivity or quality. As people return to the office environment, they expect a hybrid workplace model and flexible schedule to fit their needs.
The surge of video conferencing is here to stay and has not only increased the number of remote employees, but reduced traffic, and the need for office space alike. “Let’s jump on a Zoom” is just as ubiquitous as “google it” when it comes to business action items. Zoom has proven that meetings can be efficient and inclusive on a day-to-day basis.
Physical Fitness and Social Distancing
As gyms and fitness centers closed their doors, fitness professionals turned to on-demand and live streaming services to continue personal training and group fitness classes. The age of digital fitness and the adoption of in-person/online classes accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Much like the workplace, people want the ability to work out when it is convenient for them. We can expect these trends to stick around.
Just as indoor fitness took a turn, outdoor fitness saw a huge spike as this was the easiest way for people to retain a sense of normalcy, maintain social distancing, and take a mental break from the monotony of being at home constantly.
Hygiene, Disinfecting, and Cleanliness
CDC cleaning and disinfecting guidelines have become the new norm for recommendations and expectations of maintaining healthy practices for businesses, hospitals, schools, and even our homes Proper cleaning of frequently touched surfaces has significantly reduced the number of potential transmissions.
Health experts maintain that face masks reduce the spread of COVID-19. People not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks in public and places and large gatherings. For information on the different types of face masks, visit Mayo Clinic.
Travel and Social Gatherings
During the height of the pandemic, travel and social gatherings came to a standstill. But as we move into the next phase of the pandemic, the increase of safety protocols, self-serve kiosks, contactless booking, and credit card readers is becoming a permanent fixture in travel and large social gatherings such as concerts, theme parks, and beaches.
But be prepared to keep up with the changing protocols when it comes to vaccination cards and passports. While there is no universal vaccination passport, New York state has a voluntary digital Excelsior Pass that presents a secure way to show proof of vaccination or negative results at a business or venue. Israel’s Green Pass is similar, as it provides an incentive for those to get vaccinated and return to a sense of normalcy.
If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us an increased need for self-awareness and resilience. Has COVID-19 changed the way you do things for better or worse?
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