I’m ashamed to admit, but I was a non-believer about the chronic situation of COVID-19.
In the first week of March, it started to make an appearance when I attended the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce Summit in Washington, DC. An odd networking event where we didn’t shake hands but did fist bumps and elbow bumps in one-on-one sessions with primes and government agencies.
That very weekend, March 7th, I flew to Denver, Colorado, to attend a big event put on by Oprah. It was a fantastic event, and I got to see my idol in person. Even though I was in the nosebleed section of the stadium of 15,000 people, I saw her entertain her audience in her unique, uplifting style. I saw her remarkable friendship with Gayle King as they had a very heartfelt, candid, friend discussion.
When a meditation, led by Jesse Israel, quieted the massive crowd, you could hear about 100 people coughing.
I could not get into the meditation because of that sound. The realization that I could get sick at this event started to creep into my psyche—the feeding of 15,000 people at lunch, where we were all in close contact. If I were going to get the virus, it would have been at this event. When the two weeks passed, and I was not sick, I was so grateful.
Work took my time, and I was simply too busy to invest time in listening to experts. I slowly educated myself on what was happening in China, Italy, and Spain. The numbers were unbelievable. China cracked down its society with harshness if people disobeyed the rules about social distancing, quarantine, and the like. Italy and Spain soon closed their country.
The US started to pay attention, and we began to issue a stay at home order gradually. I felt if the military base that my employees worked at went to Charlie, they would be allowed to work at home.
Suddenly the military base had its first confirmed case and went to Charlie, and?
My employees were declared essential.
But the government has been working with me to implement an altered schedule so they can be somewhat safe. Very difficult for me to send them into an environment they could get sick from.
My sons, both were declared essential and had scares this week. My son, an Industrial Hygienist, announced they just had their first case in the mine he works at. My other son, an HVAC service technician, had a homeowner meet him out front of the home he was supposed to go into and tell him they had been exposed and to get back into his truck. Thank you, homeowner.
This week when they announced they would be sending refrigerated trucks to New York to house all the bodies. I caught a total vision of what was coming. I am deeply concerned for my family, friends, and associates.
What is the economic impact of all this going to be?
Today I grabbed a muffin I had made from the freezer. I had placed the home made in a Ziploc sandwich bag. I remembered my childhood of growing up with a mother raised in the depression. We regularly washed out the sandwich and bread bags and reused them. She would save garbage bags full of sandwich and bread bags. The thought struck me as to how applicable that is today.
The people in the depression had years and years of scarcity. Hopefully, our period of history will only be six months or less.
I am taking the situation day-by-day and realize this will not end for a very long time. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Big cities will be the hardest hit, and social distancing/shelter-in-place efforts will flatten the curve. Some are saying the apex is April 15th and others are saying April 23rd. If the curve does not flatten, then May will be a bad month as well.
I’m still optimistic and hoping for real-time testing that is available, antibodies from those that have recovered helping with a vaccine and knowing things will never be the same. I think some things will be better and I think some families have become closer and we will have gratitude for certain things we took for granted before this all happened.
I know I must accept what is happening. I can only control my actions, so there is no reason to complain and simply offer my assistance to those most in need.
I can’t complain while health workers and first responders are risking their lives every day. My employees faithfully go to work as well as my sons in this situation. I’m safe working at home, trying to figure out how my small business can help the government. My honeybees made it through the winter. A first for me as a beekeeper of three years.
I am confident we will beat this. We are Americans.
We will pull through, and I love all the positive stories of businesses switching gears and making PPE, ventilators, and the like. We are trying to give jobs to those that are jobless. Buying gift cards at restaurants and other businesses knowing they may not be open to utilizing those gift cards. Society will be stronger and more resilient but will be changed forever by this experience.
We do what we can. My heart goes out to every one of you. Stay safe and healthy.
Linda Rawson, is the Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, and the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started