It’s hard to escape the torrent of concerning news about the coronavirus. We see it in the newspaper and social media and hear about it at the office watercooler. While it is critical for Georgians to stay informed, many of these articles do little more than unnecessarily spread fear. Fortunately, this is not one of those articles.
I should say upfront that I am not a medical professional, and I believe doctors when they say that we should be prepared. However, I tend to think the rampant COVID-19 terror is far outpacing the illness’s actual risks.
I am not going to bore you with statistics or repeat important but oft-reported assertions regarding antivirals, vaccines or tests, but rather explain how modern America is uniquely positioned to get through this because of technology, innovation and good old fashioned capitalism.
Aside from washing your hands and not touching your face, for the time being, social distancing, simply making an attempt to limit close contact with others, is one of the best ways of controlling the spread of COVID-19. Until recently, social distancing and/or self-quarantining for a matter of weeks would have been nearly impossible for most of us—at least without risking serious repercussions to our finances and well-being.
Thanks to technological advancements, that has changed. Indeed, many of us can work remotely if necessary. Our offices are wherever we, our computers and cell phones are. We have real-time access to emails and can teleconference using programs like Skype and Zoom. Of course, this isn’t the case for all industries, but it allows many of us to distance ourselves from superfluous contact with our coworkers and avoid public transportation to and from work.
Not long ago, if America was struck with a pandemic, we would have to leave our houses eventually to get provisions—unless we were satisfied with eating delivered pizza and Chinese food for long periods of time. Even for me, that’s a bit much.
With the advent of different apps and the emergence of cutting-edge industries, many of us can conceivably self-quarantine for extended periods of time. Services like Uber Eats and GrubHub will deliver your favorite restaurant meals to your home. Instacart will drop off groceries at your doorstep. And Amazon will deliver just about anything you want—including groceries, home goods and yes, the increasingly precious toilet paper that people are strangely hoarding. In many cases, these companies can make same-day deliveries. What’s more, if you’re giving social distancing a serious try or just don’t like human interaction, you can have them leave your packages on the porch.
Of course, there are other needs that could compel people to leave their homes, including various medical issues. However, many emergency room visits aren’t necessary, and the same goes for doctors’ visits in general. Luckily, for less-serious issues, we now have telehealth services that allow you to consult with medical professionals from home instead of immersing yourself in a germ-ridden environment. These apps essentially connect you with a doctor via video on your phone or your computer. You then explain your symptoms, and if necessary, the physician will call in a prescription, which can also be delivered.
Each of these innovative services can keep Americans healthy and working and the economy moving forward. When you couple all of this with the fact that our state-of-the-art medical community is working around the clock to ameliorate the situation, things don’t seem nearly as bleak as they appear on social media. In fact, due to human ingenuity, innovation and the capitalist system that drives positive change, we have effective tools to help control the spread the COVID-19. In a society that’s rife with trepidation, we have reason for optimism.
In the meantime, if you want to support the local economy and your favorite merchants, consider buying a gift card to use when this all blows over.
Marc Hyden is the director of State Government Affairs at the R Street Institute, and he is a longtime Cobb County resident. You can follow him on Twitter at @marc_hyden.