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A Whole New World: What Will a Post-Coronavirus World Look Like

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Sometimes, it seems incredible that we have been living under lockdown for only a few weeks. At other times, a post-pandemic world feels utterly unthinkable.

Like it or not, our world has changed. And it’s not changing back anytime soon. If, in fact, it ever does. But what might we expect in this “new abnormal” of our post-pandemic world? How might we learn to live after, and with, the coronavirus?

A Brave New World of Medicine

Probably the most obvious and most significant impact is on the healthcare industry itself. Perhaps never before has the life-saving, self-sacrificing work of our healthcare providers been more widely recognized or appreciated.

But COVID-19 is taking a disproportionate toll on America’s best and brightest, ravaging both their physical and their mental health. Those who survive the pandemic may not have the emotional or physical strength to remain in the healthcare industry long thereafter, and this could be devastating for an industry already burdened by labor shortages.

With the aging population, though, the demand for healthcare will only continue to increase. This means that baby boomers may have to turn to other medical care providers, such as family nurse practitioners (FNP), to fill the void.

At the same time that the pandemic is taking its toll on healthcare providers, it’s also creating a more informed public, a public better able to identify and reject misinformation and those who dispense it.

And this increasing political and health literacy is not only going to help people make better decisions, it’s also going to provide much-needed relief for a financially struggling healthcare system. In fact, according to recent estimates, improving public health literacy can save billions of dollars in healthcare costs each year!

The Letter of the Law

We’re not only going to be entering our post-pandemic lives with greater health savvy, but we’re also going to be much more informed about our legal rights as well. When our country went into lockdown, and now as we figure out how to restart our world again, we’re all turning into amateur Constitutional scholars.

COVID-19 is challenging and redefining legal rights and interpretations across virtually every aspect of our lives, from our businesses and our workplaces to our homes and families. For instance, workers are now reconsidering what their employment rights are in the face of COVID, including questions of whether they can be legally compelled to shutter their businesses to stem the spread or, alternatively, return to work even if they don’t feel safe in doing so.

Likewise, as millions of people face unemployment, determining and enforcing the rights of homeowners, renters, and landlords become increasingly challenging. Legally and morally, for instance, how do you turn someone out of their home for non-payment when there’s a pandemic raging and no work to be found?

Working Wonders

The speed with which the national lockdowns were implemented meant that employers and employees alike had to hustle to redefine the way they understand, and the way they do, work. In the scramble to preserve and protect their livelihoods, workers had to learn how to transform office work into telework.

And, for many, the project was a success. So much so, in fact, many workers and employers may be reluctant to go back, especially for companies interested in practicing sustainability. After all, allowing staff to work from home is going to cut down on the number of commuters on the road, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Plus, with fewer workers in the office, employers are going to be able to cut their office’s energy demands and reduce the pressure on the infrastructure overall.

But, of course, for every medicine, there’s a little bit of poison, and the poison pill of remote work may well be the danger of burnout. If the “always-on” mentality is the hallmark of the contemporary working world, how much more will that pressure be felt when you’re quite literally bringing your work home?

The World Goes Virtual

As frightening as this pandemic has been, it’s not likely that we’re going to be able to emerge from the shadow of fear very quickly. A lot of people are probably going to feel reluctant, if not downright opposed, to congregating in large crowds, at least for the foreseeable future.

That means that we’re probably going to be doing a lot more of our entertaining, or socializing, and perhaps even our traveling, remotely. And that’s going to open up unexpected opportunities for creativity and innovation, both in the worlds of business and in the worlds of art and entertainment, from digital events to the flourishing of esports.

The Takeaway

Right now, the pandemic feels like it’s consuming our entire world. But there will be a new dawn. Life, though, is probably not going to look like anything we knew or relied upon before COVID-19 carved out a new global reality. In our post-pandemic world, the medical industry will need time to recover and reconstruct itself, even as it embraces a more informed and empowered public. In this new abnormal, many of us will find ourselves contemplating, even powerfully engaged in, legal questions and challenges we might never have imagined applying to us. We will also learn to redefine and re-experience the nature of work, especially for businesses invested in sustainability. Finally, we will discover new possibilities for virtual experiences, whether for work, for entertainment, or for creative exploration.

Posted by jhamilton at May 7, 2020 12:52 PM
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