At that time, the coronavirus was still a just news clip to me – a terrible epidemic happening in China and a few other parts of the world.
China’s cities were becoming ghost towns. People were using pulleys to deliver goods to skyscraper apartments, one friend told me.
But this was all happening overseas; in reality, it had little impact on our lives. At least, not yet…
Then COVID-19 appeared in Oregon, quite close to home actually.
In response, the Governor has banned large gatherings. And almost like a switch of the light, the ominous beast of the coronavirus jumped out from under the bed and said, “Boo!”
And the public jumped…
A flood of emails from airlines to software companies sharing how they’re committed to fighting against COVID-19, numerous social media posts of local businesses sharing if they’re open or not and the precautions they’re taking to ensure everyone’s safety, stores running out of toilet paper and having to ration out nonperishables like beans and rice, businesses switching to remote work, and cancellations of events – whether it’s more than 250 people or not.
The burning question everyone has is when will the virus hit and how bad will it be?
Sadly, its symptoms are already in almost every household.
But the symptom we’re talking about isn’t a fever and a cough – it’s panic.
What disturbs me the most and what compelled me to write this is not that the coronavirus could sweep through our community, but how people are treating each other in the midst of it.
I hear stories of people yelling and cursing in the grocery store, hoarding all the food and supplies they can; people barricading themselves at home, too fearful to leave the sanctity of their home; others simply laugh it off because they don’t know how else to react. Anyone coughing, anyone wearing a mask, anyone who calls in sick feeds this frenzy.
Reactions like these pull apart the relationships that human beings need at their core.
At this time, the only truth you can really hold onto is that you don’t know if you will contract the coronavirus or not. But your reaction to the news about it can directly affect the businesses and the people they’re made of.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, the victims of the coronavirus are not just the people that have fallen ill, but the businesses and the people they support.
That is something we can help mitigate.
The sad reality is that some businesses simply cannot operate remotely or do not have the infrastructure to succeed primarily online – restaurants or apparel companies for example.
Restaurants rely on customers coming to their location. Although they could consider establishing a delivery service, if they have no customers or are unable to source their ingredients, then their candle is burning at both ends.
Most apparel companies rely on a global supply chain which already slows down during Chinese New Year, but has been unable to pick back up since the virus has shut down many factories in Asia.
Turning towards digital solutions such as 3D prototyping is one solution, but takes time to implement successfully.
Instead, I implore you that there’s a third way to react to the coronavirus – “love your neighbor as yourself” (NIV: Mark 12: 31).
As Mother Teresa said, “Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.”
As a fellow business owner and member of the Linn-Benton community, I write to you as a friend, to encourage you in this time to run from fear, and instead, urge you to move boldly towards a greater purpose of helping others in their time of need.
Do you want to see the economic decline because of fear, or do you want to partake in the power of collective generosity?
Businesses are so reliant on their customers to succeed. Be prepared in case your business does take a hit – especially if you deal with products.
This is an opportune time to do a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), and consider how your company will respond.
Be on the lookout for digital opportunities.
At the same time, don’t capitalize on others’ suffering.
Consider using your business for altruistic purposes and find something you can do that aligns with your business’s mission and values.
Think of opportunities to donate a portion of proceeds to research, give paid time off to employees who have been directly impacted, encourage and support your team, spread hope rather than panic.
As a business owner, how can you help your colleagues who may be struggling?
As a consumer, how will you fight the impact of the coronavirus beyond reducing the risk of its spread?
What can you do to instill hope instead of fear into this community?
These are just a few of the questions I encourage you to consider at this time.
Keep updated on the news, practice good hygiene, and support one another.
Don’t minimize what has happened to others because of the virus, but also use some common sense while preparing for its impact in your life – whether it be physical or economical.
And lastly, do not minimize your impact when combating fear, for even giving hope to the fearful is a big act.
This is the time to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
To you and yours,
Please share if you know of someone who needs to hear this.