With recent increases in the numbers of COVID-19 cases, it’s doubtful life as we knew it will be returning any time soon. Large gatherings at sporting events, concerts, churches and any situation that makes social distancing difficult continue to be risky. Most of us have a new normal that we need to embrace, at least for now.
Every segment of our society has been impacted by COVID-19. The following are some examples of our new normal.
Hospitals and clinics began ramping up telemedicine options in March, enabling virtual face-to-face visits between health professionals and patients. It is likely the new normal will include expansion and increasing use of telehealth sessions, especially for at-risk populations, follow-up visits, and non-urgent cases.
COVID-19 has increased individual awareness of the importance of hand washing, proper hygiene, coughing and sneezing into the elbow, using sanitizer when hand washing is not possible, social distancing, and wearing a mask in recommended situations. This trend will likely continue.
Higher unemployment rates will likely be the new normal, at least for the near future. Layoffs have increased since the recent uptick in the number of virus cases, resulting in another surge of unemployment claims. Economists predict fewer job gains than last quarter, especially in the leisure and hospitality sector.
Many religious institutions now offer online services, and that trend is expected to continue. Most churches that do offer in-person services are limiting attendance, spacing out attendees, requiring masks, and offering sanitizer. Experts predict it will be a long time before regular services resume, especially those taking place during Easter, Christmas, and other religious holidays when attendance is traditionally highest.
While it’s possible schools will be open to in-class attendance later this month, many school officials envision a hybrid model of in-school learning and remote education as the new normal. For those attending or teaching in-school classes, social distancing and, in many cases, masks will be required.
Schools will rely on stronger parent-teacher communication and on the parental support necessary for successful remote learning.
If busing resumes, strict sanitation procedures, social distancing among non-family children and masks will reflect the new normal.
Food and Retail
Many retail and food outlets have already closed due to the pandemic. This trend is expected to continue.
Nation’s Restaurant News reported that even before COVID-19 hit, online ordering and delivery of food had increased 300 percent since 2014. This, along with increased curbside pickup and outside dining, is expected to be the new normal.
Similarly, online product ordering continues to increase. For those stores that remain open, strict store sanitation, limiting the number of customers in the store, requiring masks, curbside pickup options, and contactless ordering and payment are the new trend.
The new normal will see increasing numbers of offices closing or downsizing brick and mortar locations while relying on employees to work remotely. The use of apps like Zoom and GoToMeeting for virtual meetings is expected to increase.
Addiction and Eating Disorder Treatment
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear just how important addiction and eating disorder treatment can be to individuals struggling with stress, loss of work, and social isolation. Since all these factors pose a risk for people in active addiction and recovery, providing a strong support network is essential.
Many treatment providers have adapted to this new normal by offering telehealth or online counseling and instituting robust cleaning and social distancing protocols for inpatient treatment. 12-step and other peer support groups have also pivoted to online meetings, so individuals don’t have to go without their recovery community. This trend will likely continue in the months ahead.
Adapting to the sweeping changes caused by COVID-19 is challenging. It’s more important than ever to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including stress management, and to maintain a positive outlook as we work together to navigate our new normal.
Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.