Just when we thought we had turned the corner, we’re now dealing with more uncertainty, and perhaps something of a setback. We’re again being encouraged to wear masks – vaccinated or not – and take precautions in crowed situations. Some workplaces that had begun hybrid returns have decided to resume telework for the time being.
We’ve worked so hard to get through two tough springs, two summers and a very challenging winter. The combination of conscientious mask wearing, social distancing and incredibly effective vaccines were paying off. Unfortunately, a virulent variant evolved and, combined with the carelessness of some vaccine resisters and reluctant mask wearers, it has started sending the unvaccinated to ICUs in increasing numbers around the country.
We’re also learning from further research on the Delta variant’s transmissibility that the vaccinated are advised to start masking again in certain circumstances. Considering what we now know, it just makes sense to hit the “pause” button to hopefully break the infection cycle.
Of course it’s disappointing to change our trajectory. Lesser folk might feel diminished, but you know what, we’ve become so much better than that! The 18 months – and counting – of COVID-19 have given us new perspectives, taught us some lessons that are sticking with us, and they’re making us much sturdier and more resilient.
Cody Mello-Klein’s feature article in last week’s Alexandria Times, “Life finds a way,” highlighted life’s ability to adapt, to survive and to thrive. He illustrated the point with the phenomenal success of the Alexandria Drive-in, and how that innovative idea to fight isolation galvanized a community into action. It not only established a memorable venue for pent-up Alexandrians, but also spun off much needed funds for local nonprofits. And the hundreds of volunteers all feel a sense of accomplishment for the roles they played.
Throughout the ordeal of the pandemic, innovative Alexandrians have found a way to make life livable. Businesses have discovered new ways to serve their customers’ needs and, in the process, were rewarded with more loyal customers. Many customers have developed closer connections to and concerns for businesses, and particularly for their employees. We’ve learned to appreciate what one another is doing for the common good.
We’ve done it individually. We’ve learned not to take things for granted. That includes our own health, and it also includes how things we’d gotten used to can change drastically overnight. We’ve become much better adaptors.
We’ve developed greater appreciation for relationships – with loved ones, with colleagues and as part of a more interdependent community.
Businesses and business groups are working collaboratively. Likewise, business communities and local governments are learning how to better communicate and appreciate one another’s needs and pressures. Regionalism is flourishing.
We’re understandably anxious to get back to whatever “normal” will be, but the unfortunate reality is that we must continue for a while longer with uncertainty. Given our pandemic experiences, we’re capable of that.
We are all in this together and we are working our way out of this together.
The writer is executive director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.