The date is May 28, 2020. Most of the U.S. has been in lockdown mode for ten weeks or more. While the numbers improve in about one-third of the states, in another third the numbers increase still. The number of dead Americans passed 100,000.
The problem is this: If you believe that we are going back to the way things were before the coronavirus pandemic, you are in a sit-and-wait mode. There’s nothing to be done but fuss over why things aren’t going back to the way things were fast enough. But, if you believe we’re never going back to the way it was, the goal becomes how fast we can reinvent ourselves. Case in point: if we’re waiting, air travel is unsafe, and it’s discouraging to think of how much time we waste when we could be traveling. If, on the other hand, we believe we cannot move until we figure out how to deal with this new twist on air travel, then engineers will get to work on how to refit airplanes so that they are safe, minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Of course, work continues on a vaccine and finding alternatives to travel.
As soon as we adopt the attitude that we reinvent ourselves for these new circumstances, the better off we are.
We must accept the POV that we’re never going back to the way things were and work to reinvent ourselves for our current circumstances. For example, there has been a 90% reduction in air travel. Boeing announced drastic cuts in future orders for new aircraft and necessary layoffs of assembly-line workers. Announcing reductions in staffing is a shocking transformation for a company that had orders lined up for the next ten years, just a few short months ago. Even if there is a vaccine sometime soon, it might be years before air travel is safe enough for people to travel again. Boeing should adopt the POV that we are never going back to pre-pandemic travel and begin refitting aircraft so that people can fly without fear of infection. That might be a challenging but not impossible engineering problem to solve.
New Rule: Shared space over time spells disaster. Areas that force visitors to share the air they breathe are rife for spreading the coronavirus.
Restaurants, automobiles, trucks, busses, airplanes, cruise ships, schools, theaters, gyms, studios, shops, salons, saloons, grills, bars, hospitals, offices, showrooms, reception areas, hotels, swimming pools, playgrounds, airports, bus terminals, train stations, roadside rest areas, and grocery stores are not safe. All of these spaces must be reinvented or remain closed.
There are countries that have done a better job of controlling the coronavirus pandemic. Some, such as New Zealand, have nearly eliminated the threat. But we live in a mobile society, and unless those places remain closed to people such as us, they must also embrace the idea that we are not going back to a pre-coronavirus world any time soon.