Hope everyone is doing well and is safe and healthy. I look forward to the day in the near future that I don’t have to use the last part of that sentence (as well as the last paragraph in the blog). Sadly, I think it is going to be some time before things get back to some sense of normal. Realistically, I am planning to have the type of safety features that we currently have in place for the company through mid-late next year. I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer here (I
absolutely love this Saturday Night Live skit and hope you’ll have a good laugh as well – the theme song at the 49 seconds point is hysterical) but even with the advanced pace that a vaccine is moving, analyzing the clinical data, determining how to best ship them and getting it distributed to the masses is no small undertaking. I would rather be in the mindset of having the vaccine available later on and having it come earlier than some of the misinformation that has been going around that we will all be vaccinated by years’ end. It’s like going to a restaurant and the host telling you it will be a 15-minute wait and then you wait an hour versus the host telling you it will be an hour wait and you get seated after 15 minutes of waiting.
I was reflecting this week about the things that COVID-19 has changed for the foreseeable future. The reflection was triggered by several events that occurred during the natural progression of business this week. For those of you who are more on the “mature” side of life (won’t say old) like me, you might recognize the title of this week’s blog from lyrics from a song. Do you know what it is? It is from the group Chicago and the title of the song is “Hard Habit to Break.” There are quite a few things that I miss that I either took for granted or didn’t care for at the time that I really miss. One of the first things is having group meetings in person. For those who know me, I am not a big “I need to have a meeting at every moment of the day” person. Meetings should be targeted and productive. This week, similar to many others over the past several months, I meet with both the research and manufacturing groups to get an update on progress and plan for the upcoming week. While I have come to like video conferencing for certain aspects such as being able to share your screen to present information, being able to see a group in person just has a better feel to it. Most folks, including myself, do not enjoy looking at themselves on the screen and do not like to use video which makes some of these meetings feel even less personal. Sometimes the lag in some of these services also makes these meetings painful. I miss the gold ole’ days of 2019 when we could meet up without masks with everyone in the room.
Once COVID hit, we completely locked down the company, with only team members able to enter the facility. We made sure all deliveries were left outside the door and every box was wiped down. We miss seeing our great delivery folks who we have come to know over the years and cannot thank them enough for all they do. As we learned more, we have adjusted our standard operating procedures to make sure everyone continues to remain safe while allowing business to move forward.
Another area that I miss is being able to meet a person and properly being able to greet them. I have been so used to shaking someone’s hand when first meeting them or to acknowledge that it is good to see them again. Elbow bump just doesn’t do it for me. A handshake tells a lot about a person and losing this simple gesture has been tough. I know it has to go but that is going to be a tough one for me. The masks (which are vital to us getting through this time) also make it hard to see how someone is responding to a conversation. This is challenging when you don’t know someone well. We made it work and it was nice to be able to begin to allow some outside people into the facility
It has been nice to be able to meet with some of our team in person continuing with all of our safety precautions. I was also able to meet with some people from outside the company and it was a treat to say the least to have the opportunity. We are still being guarded about who we let in to keep control of the environment. The goal is to decrease the risk as much as possible while still being able to operate. This will be the new norm but it did feel good to have some sense of familiar back.
With all that I’ve described above, please continue to stay vigilant and keep social distancing, wear a mask where social distancing is not possible to protect yourself and those around you and frequently wash your hands. Doing the simple things gets us back to some sense of normal. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that masks and social distancing have a positive effect on controlling the virus. Please keep supporting your local businesses as they continue to work through these challenging times. We continue to see many businesses that have been open for a long time now closing which really hits home. Many other businesses are nowhere near out of the woods yet and won’t be for a long time. If you can, grab some take-out or visit their outdoor seating for restaurants or get an online membership for a local gym. Every little bit helps! Americans are a tough, innovative bunch and we will get through this together!