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Hoping, Coping, And A COVID-19 Second Wave

22nd July 2020

In speaking with friends, clients, and business associates, I get the feeling many of us are balancing between hoping and coping.

Hoping for a return to normal, or at least that things don’t revert back to lockdown, or progress to a second wave, and coping with what we’re currently dealing with, and adjusting to new and changing requirements.

While they are both part of the world we must navigate until we have significant immunity, leaning on hope too much can leave us mentally taking short cuts, or not prepared for a round two.

Focusing too much on coping can wear us down and leave us despondent, and fatigued with the efforts required.

I thought I’d just touch on a few points that have crossed my mind over the last month or so.

Moving On

There are signs that we’re all moving on from the early days of the pandemic.

The NHL and other professional sports are preparing to run significantly altered seasons, we’ve started Phase 3 in B.C., and parks, beaches, and playgrounds are filling up again.

We’re all hoping that we can get back to some degree of normal, while coping with the challenges associated with the virus.

An explosion of 100 cases in B.C. over the weekend and 30 new cases yesterday are reminders however, that as much as we’d like to hope we’re returning to normal, we all need to consider the implications of failure to keep that curve flat, and the importance of coping with the precautions, and their challenges to do so.

With the temptation of warm weather, holidays,  patios, and trips to the beach and other social events in the air, we need to remember what else is in the air, and that this isn’t business as usual.  We are continually on the brink of another explosion of cases, and potential for a return to lockdown.

Reasons To Continue Hoping

It’s been close to 6 months since we had our 1st case of COVID-19 in B.C, and we may be suffering COVID-19 fatigue, or burnout, and getting tired of hearing about it, but it’s not going away.

There are some positive aspects to keep in mind as we navigate COVID-19 in our lives.

Keeping It Under Control

We can go to the park without worrying about dying in a mad Hollywood pandemic with blood pouring out our eyeballs as we clutch our latte.

The reality is that most of us will be fine if we become infected, and we’re doing ok in avoiding that risk.

We have had success, and we know we can manage this, and we have not been asked to do anything ridiculous to keep things under control at this point.

Social distancing, frequent hand washing, or sanitizing, and masks, as well as limiting our social interactions aren’t that difficult to manage.  At the moment, this is allowing us to enjoy our summer in some capacity.

Hopefully this isn’t’ forever, and hopefully we don’t regress.  We just need to keep using the precautions, get our lattes, get to the park, or beach, and enjoy the summer skies while we can.

We also need to put this in context, and appreciate this is a liberty many cities do not currently have, and that it only exists as long as we keep the viral cases under control.

Adaptability and Resilience

While this is all new for most of us, the human body, and mind have an incredible ability to adapt, and show resiliency.

Change can be difficult, and challenging for us initially, however we are often able to overcome initial uncertainty, fear, or discomfort.

It takes time, but we have an amazing ability to adapt, adjust and evolve in relation to life’s many challenges.

We can hope that what we see as frustrating today, becomes less so as we adapt over time.  Focus on the positives, identify the biggest challenges for you, and work on overcoming them.

Practice makes better.

Whether it’s wearing a mask, or limiting your social interactions, or even just managing fear of exposure to the virus.

Surface Transmission

After initial uncertainty about how the virus was spreading, it appears that there may be less chance of transmission from surfaces.  We can all sigh a bit of collective relief with this evidence.

Surfaces that are not handled, touched, or in high traffic areas are now seen to be lower risk.

High touch surfaces, (those that are frequently in use) such as door handles, toilet handles in public places, gas pumps etc. are still a risk, and must still be part of a regular cleaning and disinfecting program, which is an essential protocol for managing the virus.

Family Time

While there certainly are challenges to family life with COVID-19 (I do not relish having to teach my children at home again) many families have found some positives.

There are opportunities to spend more quality time together, and for some families opportunities to strengthen family relationships.

Quality time may also encourage questions or concerns from family members, and ease anxiety related to the pandemic.

There is also a very real health risk in relation to mental health, and also for those who live in abusive homes that are not safe.

This article provides some overview of the challenges, and links for those who need support for violent and abusive homes in B.C.

Business Support

There are more COVID-19 tools and resources for businesses than ever.

Tools such as Fit For Work Assessments for employers and employees, WSBC guidance on various work related regulatory requirements, and  the various COVID-19 specific resources provided by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

There is also support from various levels of Chambers of Commerce for businesses (perhaps worth joining if you haven’t already?).

While the extra precautions require additional efforts within organizations, and can be challenging, hopefully these additional resources can help organizations provide safe, and low risk environments for employees and customers, the opportunity to continue to operate in some capacity, and contribute to keeping the curve flat.

Slow Business

Slow business is better than no business.  As long as we can keep the number of cases relatively low, most of us can maintain some degree of work.

Organizations must continue to assess the potential sources of the virus in the workplace, and ensure that the hazards are identified, and addressed.

Applying key control measures within the workplace and reducing risk of an outbreak at work is critical for these businesses.

Being contact traced as the source of an outbreak could be detrimental to already struggling businesses due to shut-down, or reputation impacts, as well as losing key staff to quarantine.

While many organizations have struggled financially, the current requirements for Phase 2 and 3 allow businesses to operate at a reduced level.

While this is far from ideal for many businesses, some degree of operation now may give them hope for the future.

Howdy Neighbour

Whatever your opinion of President Trump, it’s difficult not to feel a degree of empathy for our neighbours to the south.

There are an incredible number of new cases occurring in the U.S with weeks of more than 50,000 cases a day, and as of today an estimate of over 140,000 deaths, and 1000 in one day.

There are numerous challenges, and reasons related to why the U.S. is struggling include inadequate health care, and obvious political issues.

While we all have had difficulties here in B.C, and Canada, things could always be worse.  Much worse.

Let’s hope we manage to stay the course, and avoid the challenges that the U.S. has succumbed to.

Reasons for Coping

While we may be feeling burnt out with the requirements of day to day living with COVID-19, fatigued with the topic everywhere, and we can hope for improvements, there are many reasons to stay focused, and cope with the requirements to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Namely, we don’t have a choice.

The U.S. is an unfortunate example of the consequences of failure to keep the curve flat.

No Quick Solutions

We’re in this for a while.  This isn’t something that will be over in the near future.  There are indications that the earliest we can expect a vaccine may be early 2021.

Dr. Fauci, is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the U.S. and their lead on the pandemic.

Fauci has indicated he believes we will need numerous vaccines created by numerous labs to effectively halt the virus’s impact.

Indications are that even when we have a vaccine, we will still need additional to time to administer it and see its impact.

Operational Performance

How your team perceives your organizations management of the virus can directly influence their comfort and performance level, as well as willingness to work.

Failure to demonstrate that your organization is coping with the situation well can have a damaging impact on your workplace.

A recent article touches on the importance of having a cohesive, and psychologically safe work environment, particularly in times of stress.

Doing the right things to demonstrate your coping well can help your team feel safer, and also reduce risk in the workplace.

It’s also a regulatory requirement that should be integrated into your organization, as 300 organizations discovered.

We Need Hospitals And Medical Professionals

If we’re not successful at keeping cases of the virus low, we run the risk of burning out the staff that operate the hospitals, and increased deaths from lack of care or COVID-19 complications.

This also makes access to these facilities, services, and individuals difficult for those of us who might need them after a car accident, cancer diagnosis, impacted molar, or playground accident.

It’s Not You, It’s Me …. And You

We know that communities spread the virus.   Communities are made up of individuals, and as individuals we are influenced by our peers.

Using group dynamics to influence peers in communities such as bike and running clubs, groups of friends, workplaces, business groups, not for profit organizations, and other communities can encourage positive behaviours.

Most of us are more likely to keep handwashing and cleaning, or wear a mask, when everyone else is doing it too.

No-one is in this alone, and while positive peer pressure has a significant in young people, we are all subject to its influences.   The actions of the one can influence the actions of the many.

Each of us taking responsibility to apply a little positive peer pressure, and leadership individually among peers can go a long way in influencing, and helping helping communities cope with some of the demands of managing the virus.

Younger Demographic Impacts

Related to adolescents, and young adults, there is some evidence to demonstrate that younger demographics in Canada and the U.S. may not be taking COVID-19 precautions serious enough with the average infection rate dropping by nearly 15 years.

If a younger demographic isn’t inclined to cope with the requirements, and realities of controlling COVID-19 transmission and infection, they create risk for the communities they are part of.

Some recent reports indicate that this younger demographic may be directly influencing more recent outbreaks.

Peer pressure and leadership again may be an important aspect in relation to specifically influencing a younger demographic who are inclined to ignore COVID-19 precautions.

Something Dr. Bonnie Henry acknowledged recently.

Encouraging friends, colleagues, students, and family to follow precautions is one simple way to apply a bit of positive peer pressure.

Sitting on a sunny patio with friends is infinitely more appealing than being stuck in an apartment, or a room, however failing to do this with the right precautions creates more community risk.

Living with COVID-19 is infinitely less fun when you and your father end up in hospital with it.

Keeping the risk low for everyone is a social responsibility, whatever age we are.

Case Increases

As COVID-19 fatigue, cabin fever, and social isolation impact us 4 months after B.C. started to shut down, we may be tempted to take more risks.

Despite the many things we don’t know,  Dr. Jim Ayukekbong, and infectious disease specialist indicated in a Carbon Safety interview that one thing we do know, is that a second wave is often due to a failure to apply controls.

It is critical to understand that although some of the initial precautions have been relaxed in Phases 2 and 3, it does not mean things are back to normal.

The virus is still in our communities, the controls are essential especially when you consider we are still learning about how the virus travels (including some data showing a surprisingly high numbers of asymptomatic carriers), it’s impacts, and how it behaves in various hosts.

Fatigue from COVID-19 practices and requirements can lead to failure to “cope” with these requirements and precautions in Phases 2 and 3, can influence the likelihood, severity, and duration of a second wave.

There is evidence that the curve may be bending in the wrong direction again.  In the first half of July there was a burst of 25 cases over 24 hours, and last weekend in B.C there were over 100 new cases identified over one weekend.  The risk of another explosive outbreak is real.

In considering those numbers, Dr. Bonnie Henry warned recently “We do have the possibility of having explosive growth here in our outbreak, if we’re not careful”.

There is a very real risk that we may end up regressing if B.C. doesn’t stay on top of the required precautions.

Economic Catastrophe

If we don’t manage to cope well with the requirements to use these precautions for as long as it takes, we may directly contribute to the second wave coming sooner, and it’s impact being more significant than what we’ve experienced so far in B.C.

There is a general consensus that we’ll see a second wave, possibly in the fall (or sooner, or later).

That could have a crippling effect on businesses, economies, people with health issues, mental health, and those at risk due to violence in the home, among many other impacts.

Having another lockdown, and shuttering of schools and businesses could have detrimental impacts on these individuals, businesses, and communities that survived the initial pandemic.

The federal and provincial governments have kept many heads above water, but this is not sustainable indefinitely, and will have economic consequences down the road.

The longer the pandemic lasts, the bigger the consequences.

Many businesses (including my own) may not successfully navigate a round two that lasts for the same or longer period of lockdown.

Coping with existing measures and controls is a very palatable option compared to the consequences of another round of the virus’s exponential growth.

Keep Hoping and Coping

There are many reasons to be positive, and many reasons to be concerned.

So let’s keep hoping that we’re out of this sooner, and doing what we need to do to keep coping with the challenges we face at this phase of the pandemic here in B.C.

We are all in this together, and we are all stronger when we have a support network around us, and are relying on good, healthy communities to help us out.

Try to stay mentally and physically healthy, get outside, enjoy our summer, and be supportive in your workplace and social circles, this definitely isn’t going to get easier.

Apply some positive peer pressure where you can, and make sure you’re supporting your community, whoever that may be, in using the best practices we’re all encouraged, and required to do, because the reality is barring and incredibly unforeseen circumstance, we’re all in this for the long haul.

Our Services

If you’re interested in a joint Epitech Consulting and Carbon Safety Solutions Second Wave of COVID-19 30m lunch and learn, or Carbon Safety Solutions cleanliness test packages please email info@carbonsafety.ca or call 250 734 1373

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