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COVID-19 AND THE “NEW NORMAL”

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By Bro. Clifford T. Sorita

Though in a 2009 study by Phillippa Lally and her team at the University College of London, which stipulates that it will take 66 days (not 21 days) to establish new automatic behaviors; our 45-day enhanced community quarantine will definitely bring to light a “NEW NORMAL” in our social and personal manners and activities.

Following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which brought the 2008-2012 global recession, the term “NEW NORMAL” was coined to present the possible economic and sociological changes that may occur due to the crisis. Today, the term has since been used in a variability of other circumstances to imply that something which was previously atypical has become commonplace.

The question now is, “What will normal look like?” This much is certain: when we finally enter into the post-COVID-19 period, our societal and economic atmosphere will never return to its pre-crisis state. Everyone must prepare to succeed in the “new normal” and need to focus on what has changed and what remains basically the same for their personal and professional lives. The result will be an environment that, while different from the past, is no less rich in possibilities for those who are prepared to change. We must prepare to:

CONSERVE INCOME AND LIMIT EXPENSES – As seen in previous crises, the blow to labor demand is likely to translate into substantial downward adjustments to wages and working hours. While self-employment does not typically react to economic downturns, it acts as a “default” option for survival or maintaining income — often in the informal economy. The forfeiture of labor income will render into lower utilization of goods and services, which is disadvantageous to the continuity of businesses and ensuring that economies are resilient. The “New Normal” means to save some money, make a specific list of emergency expenses, and making sure not to touch the money unless it’s an emergency. We should start reducing unnecessary and optional spending in the event things still get worse. These expenses can include entertainment, certain food items and extravagances. Those savings should be kept away in a savings account as an emergency fund in the event you lose income in the next few weeks or months.

PRACTICE MORE SOCIAL DISTANCING – until a vaccine has been properly introduced into our health care system, “social distancing” will not only be a buzzword but will be our “New Normal” as well. We will have to maintain a safe distance between each other and we will have to avoid large crowds too in order to avoid the possibility of being infected by asymptomatic carriers of the virus. In fact, the traditional “handshake” will have to be reevaluated as a social norm under these circumstances. I know that the “handshake” (from ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia to Classical Greece) has been depicted as a sign of trust but under the “New Normal” we would have to express these feelings and sentiments in more creative ways (e.g. Japan eschew handshaking or hugging for non-physical greetings like bowing). Just like when the Black Plague put a stop to French cheek kissing for centuries. For Filipinos, our “pagmamano” (as a sign of respect for the elderly) might be affected as well under these circumstances.

MASTER TELECOMMUTING & E-LEARNING – due to the required social distancing in the workplace and school under the “New Normal”, telecommuting and e-learning will be a viable option for work and school. Telecommuting is an employment practice in which an employee works at a location —often his or her home — that is remote from the actual business facility at which he/she is employed. Under this arrangement, the employee maintains close contact with coworkers and supervisors via various forms of computer, Internet, and communication technology (i.e., electronic mail, telephone, computer networks, etc.). E-learning on the other hand is learning utilizing electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. In most cases, it refers to a course, program or degree delivered completely online. Workers and Students will thus have to fine-tune to these modes of working and teaching/learning.

CONTINUOUSLY BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM – besides the recommended precautionary hygienic practices (e.g. use of facemasks, proper hand washing, alcohol disinfection, cough etiquette, etc.) we will have to change our lifestyle to help improve our immune system. This will include: (1) Avoiding cigarette smoking; (2) Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables; (3) Exercising regularly, (4) Maintaining a healthy weight; (5) Getting adequate sleep; (6) Cooking meats thoroughly; and (7) Minimizing stress. Finally, when vitamins (most especially Vitamin C) became scarce at the local pharmacy due to COVID-19 people started using herbal supplements, which means the “new normal” will include such food supplements to help boost the immune system. Personally, I tried Ampalaya plus and Guyamax (produced by the Nattural Quality Corporation) & Curcumin, Piperine, Duhat and Malunggay (produced by the GlobaLeader Inc.), all of which greatly improved my overall health and wellness.

And CONQUER FEAR WITH FAITH – to fight an “invisible enemy” brings a lot of anxiety and fear. Leaving the safety of our homes will definitely take a lot of courage for most of us. In so doing, we will muster all the strength needed through the “gift of faith”. “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1) Fear takes over when the power of the spirit has weakened and we fail to rest completely in God. In the words of St. Augustine, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” We are right to be anxious when we are not rooted in God, because apart from God we are unanchored. Thus it makes sense that the Scriptures command against Fear. Anxiety and Fear is the opposite of faith but not its enemy. It’s an indispensable pathway on the road to faith because it discloses our need for God. Moving beyond fear is crucial to faith.

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For any personal comments or suggestions you may call 0917-4805585 or email me at [email protected].

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