America has officially kicked off its restart of the economy, and the re-opening of businesses. This will occur in multiple phases, with a strong emphasis on social distancing methods, combined with the protection of those still most vulnerable. Canada has recently followed suit, with Ontario reporting that it will take the longest to re-open.
While this doesn’t mean that Coronavirus cases will suddenly drop to zero, it does mean that the bell curve has begun to flatten, and the worst has passed. With Oxford University announcing that it may be able to provide millions of COVID-19 vaccinations by September, the news is cautiously optimistic that an economic rebound could happen many months sooner than previously thought. When that happens, life won’t go back to normal right away.
In fact, social distancing methods could still be the norm for another year, at least until vaccines roll out in mass quantities, and herd immunity has had a chance to take effect. While many people will still avoid shaking hands and talking too close to one another, it’s doubtful we’ll see a permanent change in our interactions with others. Right now, fear is the driving factor behind the COVID-19 pandemic. As more data begins to roll in showing that millions more people have contracted COVID-19 than previously thought (yet never showed any symptoms), the projected mortality rate has plummeted from a once-theorized 3.8% down to anywhere from 0.4% to 0.6%. This is excellent news, but it’s wise to remember that even a number as low as 0.6% still makes Coronavirus four to five times more deadly than the common flu, so caution is advised.
Open workspaces might fare the best during a COVID-19 recovery period. With enough distancing and elbow room, it should be relatively easy to maintain social distancing practices, rather than being crammed into cubicles in close proximity. Hand sanitizing stations should be installed at key locations throughout the office in order to stem the spread of the disease, and surfaces should be regularly wiped down with disinfectants and cleaners capable of actually killing COVID-19.
Keep in mind that going back to work presents a minor risk of picking up the virus and carrying it back to your family. If you have elderly folks or those with pre-existing conditions, you may want to request working remotely, as these are the two main groups of people most at risk. On the flip side, health officials are now warning people not to stay indoors longer than what’s expected, as this can weaken the immune system and lead to a massive influx of sickness when everyone finally leaves the house. You’ll have to gauge your own situation and react accordingly.
If you somehow do find yourself displaying symptoms of COVID-19, don’t wait for them to increase before you take action. Be proactive, and don’t take chances. Until COVID-19 integrates itself into our annual flu cycle, it’s going to remain a dangerous virus that needs to be taken seriously. If you suspect you have it, make sure to self-quarantine immediately, and set up a date to be tested. Current antibody tests have shown that millions more have contracted COVID-19 than previously thought, and 97% of all worldwide cases to date have shown mild to no symptoms, but this shouldn’t be a reason to relax. Remember, it’s not just you and your family you need to be concerned about. Employers can do their part here, too. Forcing employees to give doctor’s notes for sick days adds undue stress to an already burdened system struggling to keep up with the pandemic. If it’s not worth it, don’t do it. Better to be safe than sorry.
Rest assured, the world will return to normal once the crisis has passed and faded from our memories, but in the meantime, you can adjust to the COVID-19 recovery period by balancing optimism with the right amount of caution. The data has proved conclusively that the world isn’t coming to an end, so be sure to head outside every once in a while, keep your distance, and relax. It’s good advice for all of us!
For more information on dealing with getting back to normalcy in the workplace, contact us today!