The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on all our businesses in 2020. Dubbed COVID-19 because this novel strain was discovered that year, what will COVID-21 look like? I don’t expect there to be an actual COVID-21 designation, but as we look to the new year we will continue to deal with the reality of the coronavirus in our community.
The good news is the vaccine is rolling out and many are getting it. Vaccinations increase herd immunity at a rate faster than the virus can replicate itself. We’re also increasing herd immunity because of the spike in cases we saw this fall. The experts in epidemiology predict that by late spring or summer we will have attained herd immunity, meaning the virus will have a much lower impact on our daily lives.
What have we learned and what will be the best practices we keep as 2021 develops? Especially next fall when Cold, Flu, and COVID viruses hit again.
Physical Distancing – We can get work done through Zoom, Teams, and the many other video platforms that have emerged. I predict many of the meetings we did in the past that we travelled to locally or afar will remain on these platforms. I also predict that as herd immunity increases, our need as humans to be in contact with other people will increase and we’ll find the right balance that considers all factors.
Hand Washing – We saw paper towel and hand soap purchases increase by 40 to 60% at the start of the pandemic. Mostly in the men’s restrooms! I predict this will decrease but remain at a level higher than before and hand sanitizer will remain ubiquitous in every public building we gather. The reality is washing your hands more and before you eat or drink keeps you healthier.
Face Masks – While this has been a hotly debated political football, prior to all this, in sterile environments that we service, we wore masks to prevent contamination and disease transmission. I predict in many environments such as hospitality, cleaning, and medical that face masks will remain the norm. Additionally, our expectations if someone has the sniffles or cough is that they wear one when around others.
Visible Signs of Cleaning – We have several visual cues that let our customers and their clients know the building has been serviced. Customers and employees want to know the building they are entering is safe. Each of them is making decisions about returning based on what they see. Increased cleaning frequencies are likely to reduce, but the demand for a visibly clean building will remain. For many this is and will become a business reputation issue.
We’ll be dealing with COVID-21 throughout the year and likely into the spring of 2022. The pandemic won’t be over soon. How we manage it is shifting. We can get back to business faster with these practices.