By Recker McDowell —
The psychology of COVID-19 is as impactful as its direct impacts on public health and lost jobs.
The pandemic has stirred fear, worry and anxiety. Those have been magnified by daily case and death counts as well as dire predictions of more cases and future outbreaks.
Beyond all the health worries, fear is driving everything from consumers, job seekers and investors to media coverage and business decisions.
We need to overcome the fear and worry on so many levels.
Beyond the losses of life and jobs, the Coronavirus has also canceled or postponed important events such as the Kentucky Derby, March Madness or high school proms and graduations across the country. In Arizona, Cactus League spring training games, Phoenix Suns games and Scottsdale’s Mighty Mud Mania and other community events have been canceled.
Those cancelations have psychological effects. They feed into the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty over when the pandemic might ease and when the economy might return to some sort of normalcy.
As the economy reopens in Arizona, Texas, Florida and other states, it is essential the re-openings are responsible and generate confidence.
That entails making diners comfortable at their favorite restaurant. Employees feeling safe at their workplaces. And, venues and sporting events need to responsible open and find ways to social distance but also give some sense normalcy.
Those can be big sporting events or smaller community ones that mean even more to our friends and neighbors right now.
Summer vacations, Labor Day Weekend, the start of the next school year and football games (from high school up to the NFL) in the fall could all look very different. But imagine the psychological impacts if those happen and if those do not happen.
The confidence will encourage further openings of phased in plans. Small businesses and employers will be able to reopen. This will help save jobs and bring back some of the 21 million jobs lost because of the pandemic and its closures.
The confidence will also ease consumers’ minds and encourage them to make purchases.
Increased confidence and optimism can also quiet the fearful and negative chorus especially in the media that at times looks as if they want rising death counts, more Trump Twitter tantrums, and endless closures.
COVID-19 is an event of the century. Its impacts are global and destructive. But as the economy reopens and the public looks for some sort of visibility about their health and jobs, it will be small victories that propel confidence.
Community events and outings and reasoned re-openings will be drive those small victories.