COVID-19 – Day 85 – Is Our “Normal” Gone Forever?

Updated: Apr 17

Today is April 14, 2020, and it has been 85 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 here in the United States. We are now beginning to see some glimmers of hope in the COVID-19 data. The number of new daily confirmed cases has now dropped over the last three days, hopefully this will continue. The daily death totals have also dropped over the last three days after peaking at almost 2100 on April 10th. To me, that is a crazy high number but to put that in perspective, cancer kills almost 1700 people per day and heart attacks kill over 2300 people every day in the United States. I know it is easy to throw around numbers like this, but we must remember that these numbers represent real people who have lost their lives and leave family behind. I suppose it is just something that we don’t really think about, but literally someone in the U.S. dies on average about every 12 seconds and that is before COVID-19 came into our lives.

It goes without saying that going through this pandemic is very stressful. The social isolation that many people are dealing with will most likely lead to an increase in anxiety and depression among the general population. We also must deal with the uncertainty of this whole situation which will also lead to more anxiety and depression. We are about 1 month into the shutdown here in the U.S. and we still have no idea how long this will last. The numbers lately are encouraging but we don’t yet know if this trend will continue or what will happen when the social distancing measures are relaxed. Once the economy reopens could we see this virus start spreading again? The medical experts are saying that it will most likely be 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is ready for public use.

With that being the case, I must wonder If we might see things get better allowing the economy to reopen with cases continuing to drop through the summer but then get hit with a second wave in the fall which happened with the H1N1 virus. Another scenario I can envision is that once the economy reopens and social distancing measures are relaxed that we could see localized flare ups develop requiring shutting down those areas again. So, what we could end up with is kind of a whack a mole situation until a vaccine is available to finally control COVID-19. As a result of us living through all of this, I must wonder if things will ever return to the way they were before this pandemic or is that “normal” we all knew gone forever?

Right now, when we venture out in public, we are all very conscious of what we touch, who we are around and the fact that just breathing the air in a public place carries some risk. I have noticed a huge change in the people that I see while grocery shopping. In the past they seemed oblivious to anyone around them while they shopped, but now almost everyone I see is very wary of anyone who comes close to them. In order to avoid people, I have seen shoppers change their routes or stop and let other people clear an isle before heading into it. How long it takes for this awareness to fade will probably vary from person to person but in my opinion, it will always be with us in the back of our minds.

Another way I can see this experience changing us is the way in which we work. Right now, there are many people who because of their occupations can continue working from home. I can imagine that some companies will find that there is an advantage to some employees working from home and will continue this even when the economy opens back up. We also will probably see an increase in the number of meetings held online rather than in person. I believe that international business travel could decline as a result of this crisis, at least in the short term and quite possibly for good.

I imagine that our shopping habits will also change, as a society, we were already shifting towards online shopping and it is very possible that this will only accelerate that process. Last month Amazon announced that they will be hiring 100,000 new employees to handle the increase in order volume. Amazon is transforming itself into a one stop shopping experience through acquisitions and expansion into new industries. Besides Amazon’s massive general merchandise presence, they are also actively expanding in many other areas, groceries, pharmacy, payments, and small business loans. Amazon is also looking at getting into the mortgage business, home and garden, and insurance. I believe that Amazon will emerge from the post-COVID recession much stronger than before this crisis and certainly much stronger than most of its peers and competitors. Unfortunately, this crisis is most likely going to lead to the failure of some smaller retailers, especially those that do not have an online presence.

The chart below shows the actual and projected eCommerce sales illustrating that the retail consumer was already moving more of their purchases online. This chart was created almost a year ago, in my opinion, due to this crisis the data for 2020 and beyond will be much higher than projected in this chart.

Another part of our lives that I feel will increasingly move online is education. I believe that there will be an increase in online education post-COVID-19 for college and adult students who will choose to take classes alone online rather than sit in a crowded classroom. It is also possible that we will see an increase in families electing to home school their children with a combination of at home as well as online learning.

I will also predict that we will see an increase in the number of people who use online doctors when possible rather than sit in a waiting room full of sick people. We could also see an increase in the number of people who use online pharmacies or pharmacies that will deliver their prescriptions. So, what I am getting at with all of this is that I believe our lives will be increasingly pushed online. We were already moving in that direction but in my opinion this crisis will accelerate the process.

Unfortunately, living through this crisis is going to change the way we live and interact with others. Only time will tell if this change is only temporary or permanent. I just do not believe that people are going to forget about this and go back to their “normal” life any time soon, especially before a vaccine is available. I know personally, I will not feel safe being in a large crowd like in a movie theater or at sporting event until a vaccine is available and even then, I will never feel the same being in large crowds.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you all stay healthy and safe.

Donald Hancock


Big-sky-Crypto  Montana, USA    

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