Covid-19 Has Changed Us
And some of those changes may be for the better.
When the Covid upheaval began a year ago, who would have predicted we would still be wearing masks and launching yet another round of clearing out closets, spice drawers and garages?
Tough times tend to obscure the tides of history while they are buffeting us, but we all know this past year has changed some things forever. Getting on top of this virus has been a process, not an event, but I’d like to check in with some improvements Covid has brought to my life. Surprisingly, there are quite a few.
Before lockdowns, for instance, a yoga morning consisted of showering, finding my yoga duds, dressing for class, making a cold 15-minute drive to the studio, and then setting up and settling in. Now I roll out of bed, flip out my yoga mat in the sunroom and turn on my computer for an online class, still in my pyjamas. My yoga instructor has managed to keep her thoughts on my attire to herself, for which I’m grateful.
And what about the new ways we tap in to the delivery of medical services? Pre-Covid, how often had you experienced a phone consult with your physician?
Research carried out by ICES, an independent, not-for-profit research institute, and Unity Health Toronto compared Ontario medical billing data from March to July 2020 with data from the same period in 2019. The study’s authors found that the number of office visits dropped by nearly 80 per cent in 2020, while virtual visits jumped by an eye-popping 5,600 per cent.
Though not everyone will agree that virtual visits are an improvement, for most medical appointments I much prefer the ease of talking to a medical professional over the phone to the hassle of showing up and waiting my turn in a doctor’s office.
And having test results available online is a huge step forward. Now, will the medical system please work on assimilating each patient’s bits of information into one central place? This can’t be very far off.
In addition to all this, the speed at which the latest vaccines have been developed is no small miracle. “The science behind vaccine preparation is light-years ahead of previous vaccines,” said Karen Peirce, a retired Caledon family physician. “I have huge faith in Health Canada and absolutely no concern that it might appear to have been done on the fly. The science leading to the production of these vaccines has been in the works for many years.”
Though getting vaccines into the arms of those who want them is presenting challenges, the job will get done, and we’ll all be better off for it.
We have also became proficient at understanding and using online stores, and we’re now at ease with the process of curbside pickup and even grocery home delivery.
Online courses are available in everything from dog training to web design. We can tune in to choral concerts and watch theatre performances. I’ve even heard there are thriving online knitting communities.
National and international multigeneration family online chats enable us to see people we rarely get to visit without using our passports and enduring the inconvenience and expense of air flights. Though these chats are often chaotic as we adapt to the technology, we still manage to connect and celebrate special events with people thousands of kilometres away. And we can take pride in reducing our carbon footprint through reduced air and vehicle travel.
For decades the city of Toronto has been dithering about repurposing a few traffic lanes for bike and pedestrian use. This finally became a reality when the city realized it could no longer ignore the fact that people need safe ways to move around outdoors.
And people are getting outdoors much more. Those of us living near conservation areas are well aware of the huge jump in the number of people enjoying our woodland, bike and rail trails.
My anxious thoughts and occasional nightmares are likely similar to yours – forgetting to mask, unwittingly finding myself in a crowded setting, hugging a friend spontaneously. I often wonder how long it will take us to recover after all this is over, as well as how difficult it’s going to be to stop moving our lips in sync with our thoughts when we can finally chuck our masks.
The Covid experience has most certainly left us all a bit ragged. But the end is on the horizon, and in at least a few areas of our lives, we will be better off for having foundered, fought, recovered and persisted through it.
Somehow I thought growing old would take longer.