COVID, Two Years Later
On March 11, 2020, exactly two years ago, I sent my first Firm-wide email about COVID-19. That was followed shortly thereafter on March 16 by an email converting Marcum to a remote workplace effective March 17, 2020, with the expectation that it would last until March 22. Wow, was I wrong!
As health officials sounded the alarms and COVID-19 took over the headlines, schools and offices shut down, social gatherings got cancelled, wearing masks outside became mandatory, and hand sanitizer dispensers popped up just about everywhere. Healthcare workers became the first responders in a crisis that no one had anticipated, and no one knew where it would end. Sadly, 6 million people died from COVID-19 around the world, in the largest mass tragedy any of us has experienced.
Somehow, though, we found a way to navigate through it and reinvent the way we do business and socialize personally. Businesses and schools transitioned overnight to operating remotely until the worst was over. (Here at Marcum, I was grateful that we had long invested not just in technological readiness but also in flexible work, which allowed our team to continue serving clients at a high level literally overnight.) Healthcare providers raised their game to adjust to tremendous demands on their capacity, ushering in changes like telemedicine to keep their teams and patients safe. Pharmaceutical companies rushed out vaccines and treatments at a pace we had never seen before. Just about everyone in America learned the importance of social distancing.
Two years later, life is not quite back to “normal”—many parts of the country experienced a surge in the Omicron variant in January—but we’ve come a long way. What was once a pandemic has now become endemic, which we’re finding ways to live with, like the flu. Workplaces including Marcum have reopened and invited their teams back to the office to enjoy the simple pleasures of watercooler talk, eating lunch in the break room with colleagues, and attending business conferences and networking events. Schools have lifted mask mandates and resumed athletic activities at full tilt.
Although we can now breathe a collective sigh of relief, at least for the time being, I suspect most of us will be processing what happened during the pandemic for many months and perhaps years to come—as we also keep an eye on the worrisome situation in Ukraine. The isolation of the pandemic put tremendous pressure on most people’s mental health and contributed to problems like a loss of learning for disadvantaged students who lacked the technology and support they needed to keep up.
With the weather getting warmer, I hope that everyone will take advantage of whatever time off they have in the months to come to reconnect with friends and family, get out of their houses, stop isolating and do whatever it takes to reboot. Although many of us are preoccupied with the tragedy in Ukraine that seems to get worse by the day, it is important, at the same time, to put on our collective oxygen masks so we are in a position to help. That crisis has reminded us once again how precious life is, and we shouldn’t take our good fortune for granted.
Stay safe, stay healthy and remember, we are all in this together.