How do you say goodbye to a year like 2020? “Good riddance” seems fitting, however that would suggest that nothing good or positive came out of this year. Yes, 2020 has been a terrible, uncertain, sad, divisive year on many levels. But for this Viewpoint I am choosing to look to the good, and to the creative ways both businesses and individuals survived and helped others.
The world as we knew it changed on March 11. I will never forget being at the RadTech Conference in Orlando the day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The days that followed are a blur – stocking up on supplies, the desperate effort to find masks, toilet paper and Clorox wipes, getting kids home from college, suddenly having everyone working and attending school from home, stay-at-home orders, cancelling work trips, sports tournaments and vacations, etc.
Yet amid all of the craziness, fear and disappointment, signs of goodness and ingenuity shone through. A number of automakers and other manufacturers retrofitted their factories to make PPE and ventilators. Many chemical companies and distilleries began producing hand sanitizer to help with the shortage. Paint manufacturers began developing and testing antiviral surface coatings. The medical industry developed new treatments and therapies for seriously ill COVID patients. Laboratories and production plants continued to function with unique shift schedules. Customer meetings, industry events and schools continued via virtual platforms. Apps were developed to trace contacts in an effort to help with early testing and isolation. Restaurants developed QR codes for hands-free menus and bill pay. Movie theaters rented out entire theaters to small groups of friends and family for safer, socially distanced entertainment.
Goodness was seen as people sewed masks and delivered them to hospitals. Quarantined Italians sang together from their balconies. People all over the world organized coordinated times to applaud healthcare workers. Customers “paid it forward” by leaving extra-large tips to help restaurant staff during closures. Museums and orchestras offered free virtual tours and performances. Grocery stores created specific shopping times for the elderly. Schools continued to provide food for families that rely on two meals a day for their kids. YouTube hosted a global virtual commencement ceremony. Fitness instructors offered free, live, at-home workouts to club or gym members. Multiple religions held a combined, global day of prayer and fasting. Families spent more time together.
The lists could go on for pages – these are just examples that I am personally aware of. Yes, 2020 has been a difficult year. But let’s choose to celebrate the things we have learned, the new skills we have developed, the new ways business and learning can take place, and the people we have come to appreciate more this year. And let's look forward with hope to 2021.