The Silver Lining In The Dark COVID-19 Cloud
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“Was I deceived or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?”- John Milton.
Over the past month or so I have been discussing a lot of the negative impacts that COVID-19 has had on individuals and physicians in particular:
I thought that a post detailing some of the positive takeaways of COVID-19 was in order.
Now don’t get me wrong.
If I had a choice of scenarios between the current pandemic and the countless lives lost, both in the healthcare population and the general public, and a scenario where this was avoided entirely, the latter wins hands down every single time.
But forced with the hand we were dealt with, I began to look for some silver linings in our current predicament as too much doom and gloom is just downright depressing.
I have already written about some of the benefits I experienced when I chose to view the glass as half full when I was furloughed.
The following are additional rays of light I have witnessed that help to pierce the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Silver Lining #1: Elevation of the healthcare worker in the public eye.
It seemed prior to the introduction of COVID-19, physicians seemed to be under constant scrutiny from the general public.
US physicians were often, and unjustly, blamed for the meteoric rise of healthcare costs, with many citing we are overpaid.
The general layperson only hears of the annual salary of a physician and does not consider the length of training, sacrifices made, and liabilities shouldered by each and every physician.
So the physician is sadly made the scapegoat and the villain when insurance premiums and healthcare costs rise.
Now the vast majority of physicians did not enter medical school for fame or glory but rather they chose to genuinely help people while earning a decent living.
It certainly is a welcome and refreshing change to witness public sentiment towards healthcare workers climbing to an all-time high.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented a global stage for which the world could witness the sacrifices and hard work its healthcare workers were enduring to help their fellow man.
For the first time in ages I actually felt proud to don the white coat.
Silver Lining #2: Watching healthcare colleagues rise to the challenge.
Professions that typically receive public adoration, such as athletes, musicians, and movie stars, were essentially relegated to the safety of their own homes and out of harms way.
Sure there were celebrities that did step up and get involved with benefit performances etc to raise money and supplies to fight COVID-19, but their health was never in jeopardy by doing so.
Meanwhile, it was the “everyday” healthcare worker who put his or her own health at risk and marched directly into the mouth of the beast to fight the good fight.
Despite the rising number of individuals being added to the Lost On The Frontline website, healthcare workers never wavered from their mission of helping the sick.
It takes a certain individual to be able to run into a fire rather than follow our natural instinct to run away from one.
Thousands of medical workers did just that, volunteering not only their time but potentially their health, when they flew into the epicenter of COVID-19, New York City to help their colleagues in need.
Various specialties of medicine, such as Emergency Medicine, became rockstars in this fight as they were indeed the true frontline warriors.
It was amazing to see the field of medicine become so galvanized against a common enemy.
Silver Lining #3: The outpouring of support from companies both inside and outside of healthcare.
Business corporations really stepped up to the bat to show their admiration and support for healthcare workers during this pandemic.
White Coat Investor created an amazing resource of companies that gave discounts and freebies for those in the health profession.
The list was truly staggering both in the number of companies participating as well as the value of some of the goods they were providing for free.
One of my favorite freebies I received was from the Crocs company, whose generosity was unbelievable.
Crocs essentially gave away 20k pairs of Crocs a day until they gave away a total of 860k pairs of shoes.
On top of receiving a great pair of shoes I could use for work, I did not even have to pay for shipping!
The shoes I received were valued at $45 on the Crocs website.
This would place the value of the entire Croc giveaway at near $39M, quite an eye-popping amount and a truly kind gesture of solidarity with medical workers.
Another company that gave a generous offer for healthcare workers that I was able to take advantage of was McDonalds who provided “Thank You Meals” for two weeks.
Giving every healthcare worker a free meal every day during this time period must have easily cost the McDonalds corporation 10s of millions.
Another freebie I was able to capitalize on as a healthcare worker was from a company I previously never heard of, Verb Energy.
Verb Energy generously sent me a pouch containing 12 bars which was valued at $18.
When I am at work I have a relatively fixed snacking regimen:
- 10 am: KIND Bar (Caramel Almond & Sea Salt).
- 12:30 and 2 pm: Nature Valley Granola Bar (Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate).
When I first opened the Verb Energy pouch, I did not think one bar was going to hold me over if I replaced either of my routine snacks (each Verb bar weighs 22 grams versus 40 grams for a Kind bar).
I was, however, pleasantly surprised.
Not only did I not have any hunger pangs by the time lunch came around with the 10 am substitution, I actually was not hungry at my normal eating time like I am sometimes after a Kind bar.
The biggest benefit was that after eating one of these energy bars, I could notice quite an improvement in focus/concentration.
Per the label, each bar contained 65 grams of caffeine, the equivalent of an expresso shot.
I am not a coffee drinker so perhaps it was just the novel jolt of caffeine circulating through my bloodstream that resulted in the mental improvements I noticed, but it was indeed noticeable.
[I therefore am not sure what the delta in energy level will be for regular coffee drinkers.]
As a bonus, each bar was only 90 calories versus the 200 calories from a Kind bar (or 190 calories from the Nature Valley one).
In another amazing gesture, auto insurance companies decided to actually give back money to policyholders as there were less commuters on the road and people were driving far less than before.
My insurance company, Liberty Mutual, refunded $99 back into my wallet rather than pocketing the money for themselves.
I estimate the final tally on freebies I have gotten from these companies was close to $200.
I actually felt a little bit guilty because I was not hurting for money during this time and here I was getting all these gifts.
But then I thought professional athletes, movie stars, and musicians get far more pricey swag gifted to them all the time and they make exponentially more than I do, so I was once again at peace.
I am deeply appreciative for the kindness these companies, and others, showed towards healthcare workers during this stressful time.
It was a gesture that will not be forgotten.
Silver Lining #4: Allowing Mother Earth A Chance To Heal.
With the majority of the population under shelter-at-home orders, there has been a dramatic impact on the environment.
On a personal level, I noticed that my commute was dramatically improved as there were less vehicles on the road.
[As a bonus, the pandemic even played a beneficial role in reducing future auto insurance premiums.]
With some of the largest of culprits of pollution kept at bay, signs of Mother Nature healing itself started cropping up.
Although experts are saying this is not attributable to the global lockdown, the timing and rapidity of the repair makes me think this is more than just coincidental.
Silver Lining #5: Opened people’s eyes about finance and the importance of an Emergency Fund.
I can’t speak for most people, but for me COVID-19 demonstrated how fragile an income source can be, even that of a physician’s.
The Black Swan event caused by COVID-19 exposed my foolish ways about viewing an Emergency Fund as superfluous.
I also believe, because of the current global crisis, more and more of my colleagues are interested in developing other sources of income through passive sources or side gigs so that they are better diversified.
I expect more and more people will be interested in improving their financial acumen so that a future event will no longer catch them off guard.
The human spirit is indomitable.
Faced with unprecedented challenges, both in the past and in the present, we always seem to rise to the occasion.
It is typically during our greatest tragedies that we find just how powerful our resolve is to help our fellow humans.
COVID-19 gave the globe a huge punch to the gut, but it did not knock us out.
I truly believe that, because of this, we will be stronger and better equipped to face the next Black Swan event when that time comes.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
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