If we are going to allow the coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread slowly in order to not over burden our healthcare system then our businesses and interactions will need to change in order to continue economically. Here are some ideas that I could see moving forward:
- Restaurants will need to focus on food preparation that almost guarantees no contamination is happening. I am not an expert but I am sure that is possible. Their dining rooms can be down-sized to space out those desiring to dine in, greatly reducing their proximity to other customers. And maybe put a limit on the number of patrons who can dine-in together without splitting their group? Entry and exit doors should be electronic. If that is not in the budget then we need engineers to create a UV handle that is actively killing germs once touched. Restaurants would shift their focus to pick-up and delivery by either hiring drivers themselves or by using one of the many growing delivery services such as Waitr.
- Grocery stores are the big one. I recommend pursuing what a university in China and Amazon in the US are doing. Incorporate this with online site-to-store pickup or even delivery and the possibility of contamination goes way down in theory. Maybe the stockers would need to wear hazmat suits or some sort of modified clothing to lower the contamination probability even lower.
- Telehealth should have already been approved by insurance companies. One of the downsides to telehealth is that the in-person checkup, especially for injuries and illnesses, allows the doctor to interact with the patient in a way that allows them to think without communicating. As an example, if my child gets hurt while I am on a trip and I am trying to instruct my wife by phone on what to do, the interaction is very difficult sometimes. And I am unable to observe the child for myself. A torn toenail across the cuticle the other day was really a superficial tear of the top part of the toenail. I was able to remove the toenail that had broken without pain to the child, but my advice over the phone would have been drastically different if I had not seen it for myself.
- Modified interaction with patients. My wife went to the foot doctor yesterday and had a traditional visit. Later she learned that the foot doc staff began checking people in by phone. As their ability to bring the patient in and to a waiting room got close then they would call the patient to have them come in. This minimized group exposure and allowed the staff to keep the waiting area and rooms cleaner. Concepts like this should be explored. Perhaps outdoor clinics would be beneficial as well when able. Sunlight does a good job of killing germs…I think.
- Places of worship could move their services outdoors or setup times for set numbers of people to come to the building. The French Huguenots used boxes to keep families together and warm during cold winters in their churches (see image below of the one in Charleston, SC). Maybe setting up seating that is more spaced out and puts families together would work?
- Public schools could switch to an online model when able. Families that are willing to take the risk of infecting one another could provide their homes for small groups of children to attend. The parent would facilitate the lesson provided by the school system using online videos and resources to provide instruction. Remote teachers would receive the work visually via pics or videos, or have it scanned for grading. This might enable a higher volume of students to be reached by one teacher, especially if the parent can grade younger children’s work. This is just an idea and smarter people can create something that works.
I would love to hear from you all on what ideas you can come up with that could enable our traditional goods and services to continue but in new ways. What does the future look like if we get creative in order to keep our economy from crashing?
Our rural areas need connectivity to the internet in order to make some of this happen. Installing internet connectivity into rural areas should become a priority to bridge the gap between our cities and our towns. You would not believe how many people live just on the edge of where internet access is. My sister doesn’t have service available unless it is satellite. My parents have satellite at the premium level and it can barely handle streaming a movie. A 1.5 hr movie can take up to 3 hrs to watch due to all the delays. Their street has about twenty to thirty houses on it that are just outside of city limits. Even DSL that was formerly available is no longer available because the phone company does not maintain those lines any longer.
Anyways, creativity is the way forward. The resiliency of humans in times of crisis has always been one of our strengths. Let’s keep that going. And remember,grow a garden! Even one plant is better than none.