It has been just two months since COVID-19 was designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), compelling the majority of the world’s nations to close their borders and institute lockdown measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Robert Davis of RD Heritage Group, who devoted a decade of his life to being a physician before transitioning to the investment world, says that despite those unprecedented efforts, nearly 300,000 people have succumbed to the virus and the global curve of cases has yet to show signs of flattening, indicating a very long road yet remains.
Some countries and regions have managed the crisis better than others and are now cautiously emerging from lockdown to face a world where social distancing, mask-wearing, and enhanced hygiene measures are just the tip of the new normal.
Shopping restrictions are widespread and include stores limiting the number of customers inside at any given time or only offering delivery and/or curbside pickup. Restaurants, theaters, public transit, and other venues with defined and often close-quarters seating arrangements are rethinking and redesigning their layouts to make them safer in the new COVID-19 world.
Those initiatives and restrictions are being widely accepted as a temporary necessity to protect lives, but many are looking forward to the day when COVID-19 is completely behind us and we can return to some semblance of true normalcy.
Robert Davis of RD Heritage Group, which invests in and supports the growth of medical device makers and pharmaceutical companies among other initiatives, notes that promising progress is being made on several vaccines that could eventually usher in such a future.
Nonetheless, he sees rapid social and technological evolution taking place across a variety of sectors which will all but ensure that the post-COVID world will look a lot different than the pre-COVID one did. Some of these changes will undoubtedly be for the better, while others could prove just as dangerous as the coronavirus.
COVID-19 is exposing some dangerous trends in the step’s governments are willing to take to try and slow its spread.
More concerning still is the potential for surveillance measures that could greatly limit personal freedoms and liberty, such as forced 24/7 biometric data tracking, contact tracing, and/or immunity passports that may be required for travel or other activities. Apple and Google are spearheading the drive for proximity-tracking apps, which could then become ubiquitous on billions of smartphones.
Governments have a habit of stealthily passing overreaching laws during emergencies, often with the promise of eliminating them once the threat has passed. They do not always live up to those promises, which could result in widespread surveillance and tracking becoming a permanent fixture in our lives.
Greater Emphasis on Health
Underlying health factors have proven to be a gigantic co-morbidity when it comes to COVID-19 deaths. The most prominent by far is hypertension (high blood pressure), which affected nearly 70% of Italy’s COVID-19 victims through April 28 and which nearly half of all Americans suffer from. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and COPD are among the other co-factors associated with an increased risk of dying from the novel coronavirus.
This startling new lens through which we can view our health and the risk factors that come along with it should incentive millions of people to take better care of themselves. After all, it is hard to justify being scared of the slightly elevated risk from COVID-19, as many people are, while at the same time continuing to destroy your health and greatly elevating your risk of all-cause mortality through other voluntary life choices like diet and physical activity levels.
Robert Davis, the RD Heritage Group co-founder believes it may be time for governments to take more dramatic steps to further incentive healthy living given the immense costs of caring for the sick, even if that means outright paying citizens to get healthier.
Previous attempts by some governments and corporations to promote healthier living, which have most often come in the form of apps that offer small rewards for achieving daily, weekly, or monthly health goals, have been successful for the most part. The challenge is in making the rewards frequent enough and meaningful enough to drive sustained positive health outcomes.
Our post-COVID world may not be all that much different from our current one in that new methods of conducting business and pleasure online will only persist and grow. Through group apps like Zoom, companies have realized they are able to conduct business at a fraction of the cost and with greater productivity than they could in the office.
Schooling is likely to undergo a major transformation as well, with more classes being conducted online. One option being considered for New York schools is staggered attendance, whereby students would alternate between in-school and online classes each day. With many school systems around the world struggling to keep class sizes and costs in check, it is not hard to imagine staggered attendance or even more robust online learning becoming a new norm.
Robert Davis of RD Heritage Group cautions that many elderly people could find themselves on the wrong side of a growing digital divide post-COVID-19, in which more and more of the economy and various services, such as doctor consultations, are administered through online channels.