Updated: Apr 2, 2020
This morning, my son and I went for a jog, which we do every Sunday morning. We jogged past the General Hospital pausing briefly to talk to a medical attendant who was taking a smoke break. Normally we don’t get downwind of smokers anyways, so our conversation about 15 feet apart.
“How’s it going in there today?” I asked. “Any uptick in sick people?”
“No,” she said. “Actually, it’s eerily quiet right now. We’re not allowing many visitors, so the halls are empty. They must know something is coming soon because there are a LOT of empty beds right now.”
“Let’s hope they don’t have put those beds to use,” I replied, and my son and I carried on.
Unfortunately, we all know the beds WILL be needed soon. It’s only a matter of how soon and how many at once. Canadians are successfully flattening the infection curve – slowing down and stretching out the infection rate - but there are still so many unknown and unreported cases; like the bulk of the iceberg below the water.
How much “ice” remains below the water? Is it 9/10th, 7/10th? We’ll be fortunate if it is only a half. Really fortunate.
We jogged on to our shopping centre and we looked around the complex to see which stores where open for business and what stores were closed. Every store had a sign on their doors recognizing the COVID-19 threat and the measures they were taking or their reasons for closing.
The bakery was open. The sign on their door read, “our staff are washing their hands every 20 seconds. (Really? Every twenty seconds? Could have been a typo). And they were washing their counters every 20 minutes. They were smiling invitingly over the counter with cleaning rags in hand. We didn’t go in.
The dental clinic was closed, of course. There was a Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver on March 5-7 which saw 14,737 attendees. Unfortunately, several attendees were carrying the virus. Horribly, Dr. Denis Vincent from the North Shore in Vancouver was diagnosed with COVID-19 after attending and he died two weeks later.
The pet store was open. Pets are not known to catch the coronavirus, but that’s not yet a certainly.
Starbucks and more than half the stores were closed.
While looking around, we approached a set of stairs. I was about to reflexively tell my son to “hold the railing” like I always do, but in that moment, as he reached for the railing, I yelled, “STOP. DON’T touch that railing.”
“But Dad, you’re always telling me to be safe and hold the railing.”
“I know kiddo. Now it’s time to stop listening to your Dad because touching handles and railings that everyone else is touching is one of the ways people can catch the coronavirus. If it gets on your hands and your touch your face before you wash them, the virus can get into your lungs.”
He didn’t really care much about my professorly explanation. He was joyful that I told him he doesn’t have to listen to me.
“Actually, Dad,” he confessed. “I wasn’t really listening to you anyways.”
I hoped he only meant about holding railings, but I didn’t pursue it and we carried on.
While we jogged home, I considered how even one small change in behaviour around the world may herald massive shifts in societal perceptions; how we interact and how we do business. This small change in the way I talk to and educate my son is being repeated a million times over all around the world as families struggle to avoid infection and come to grips with a new social and economic reality.
With a decade of change happening within a few short weeks; with so much out of our control, it’s important to focus on the power of our agency in our own lives, the lives of our families and our businesses. We have many decisions ahead of us. The best way to prepare for that is to do some deep thinking, so see what can be seen and to plan.
Most of us are not immunologists, politicians or economists, so what can we contribute? What can we do?
We can contribute to each other. We can share our stories, our thoughts and our ideas with each other.
I believe deeply in grassroots movements and in the sharp, perceptive insights of people who are on the ground and in the trenches. People on the front lines going through trial and error to come up with real strategies that work.
Well, now we’re ALL on the front lines in a battle against a pandemic.
That’s why I’m putting out a call - an invitation to share your thoughts, fears, failures, successes and changes in how you’re doing business (if you are currently doing business at all).
Share what you think will change, from minute to massive.
I pledge to do my best to compile your thoughts and words for all of us to read, consider and act upon.
To your health!