Remember back in 2020 when as the stressful year unfolded, we would wistfully daydream about the day when this coronavirus pandemic would come to an end and we’d get “back to normal?” We thought that would happen, like, in 2021. Then 2021 came along and the deadly Delta variant of COVID-19 emerged. “Normal” had eluded us once again.
Enter Omicron which looks to complicate 2022. I think it’s time to forget about getting back to what used to be normal and make sure you and your company are ready for a new “normal”…
See more on Omicron and a new ‘normal’
Three weeks ago at the end of November, Delta was the source of 99.5% of all COVID infections in the U.S. One week ago, Omicron, the emerging newcomer to the COVID family of pandemics, was accountable for only about 8% of infections, as Delta continued to rule.
Shooting From 8% to 73% of All Infections in Just 7 Days
Then, just one week later, Omicron raced past Delta and all other variants to become directly responsible for 73% of all new COVID infections. According to the CDC, the level of Omicron infections across the country grew by six-fold in just seven days. Furthermore, data shows Omicron infections have been recorded in 48 out of the 50 states in a head-spinning ramp-up of a new phase of the pandemic. The shocking speed of this spread reaffirms data out of the U.K. which showed that Omicron had a transmission rate 7 times greater than Delta…making it incredibly disruptive.
How disruptive? Today, the National Hockey League (NHL) suspended the season temporarily due to surging COVID infections – taking a short pause in the hopes of salvaging the rest of the season. So far this season, the NHL has been forced to postpone 44 games due to COVID – 39 of those were just in the last week. The word is that something like 100 NHL players are sidelined due to COVID protocols.
The NHL Isn’t Alone in Dealing with Omicron
But the NHL is not alone in this – the National Football League (NFL) has resorted to rolling postponements as well. Within the last week, more than 100 NFL players tested positive for COVID, 37 of them in just one day. Schedules have been upended as more and more of their players have to sit out due to Omicron. The same situation is occurring in the NBA.
Here in the New York Metro market, we saw the entertainment industry hit as well. Saturday Night Live suspended live audiences, starting with last Saturday’s show – taking a step back to where they were with original COVID. And there was quite a buzz that arose when Radio City Music Hall canceled all remaining performances of their iconic Christmas show, called the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. That, folks, is a big event here in New York that is popular every holiday season.
Wall Street Says OMG to Omicron
How did Wall Street react to the rapidly spreading Omicron situation? The market overall crashed on Monday as all three major indexes closed down, with the Dow down 538pts or 1.5%. But was all in reaction to Omicron? Well consider the fact that shares in Zoom Communications soared – in fact, it was a leading gainer for the day – seeing its market value soar an amazing 9.5%.
Meanwhile, unlike Zoom, which does well in pandemics, Emerald Expositions, which does not do well in pandemics, was hit hard and on Monday and kept setting a cascading series of new 52-week lows, finally closing at just $3.30 a share. That price is just off the lowest level of the year, $3.22, set just minutes before on the same day. The company lost more than 6½% of its total market value in just one day. (Note that it gained some of that loss back on Tuesday, trading at $3.44 in late-day trading.)
Municipalities Moved to Act
The shocking rate of increase in infections due to Omicron over the past week or so has spooked many municipalities. Many of them around the country are reintroducing mask and vaccination mandates in the hopes of trying to slow the rapidly spreading Omicron and, hopefully, preventing the need to take other more drastic actions later.
So here we are with the third wave of COVID, and “normal” is looking more and more like a quaint concept of a past era. So what does this mean for us today…what is our new normal?
Mastering a New Skill to Master COVID
It is clear to me that as you plan your business, it will be necessary to keep flexibility as part of your go-forward operating plan. I noted in my post, Top Factors to Consider as You Ponder Your 2022 Plans the disruptions to the supply chain has forced us all to change the way we do business. And part of the equation for the supply chain disruption has been due to COVID which forced factories, other production facilities, and transportation centers to have to shut down for a while.
Some medical analysts have suggested that COVID may become part of our ongoing existence, much like the regular flu. If that is the case, then you need to factor that in as employees may become ill and require quarantining, business events could be canceled or post-poned, and of course, supply chains will likely continue to be disrupted.
The New Normal
It makes sense to factor this new world into your decision process. Perhaps building flexibility and expanded time windows into your contracts, making sure you have plenty of resources…such as inventory, cash, or employees…should backup be required in a quick last-minute Omicron pivot.
Welcome to the new normal…