Wind the clock back to March and Ryan Reeves, Insurance Manager with Ernst Body Corporate Management, was excitably awaiting the arrival of his new baby with his wife, Linelle, completely unaware of what the short term future would hold.
The young professional couple from the Gold Coast were surprised when Arlo, their beautiful and healthy baby boy, was born five weeks early in March, and thankfully just in the nick of time before the pandemic forced the country to go into lock down.
Arlo’s early arrival was – in hindsight – a blessing for the first-time parents, as a week after his birth Queensland’s restrictions meant the couple were to remain at home to avoid the spread.
“This year has been a really tough year but for me I got to experience beauty from the pandemic. Arlo was only weeks old when I was told I would be working from home indefinitely. I was so grateful to have been able to support Linelle with feeding and bathing during my breaks and being able to watch Arlo sleep in person instead of online or in photos. I was there for all those incredible bonding activities that traditionally I would have missed by being in the office,” says Ryan.
Making lifestyle choices
The same could be said for Conrad Hamill, who was living all the trappings of a Bondi professional while juggling dual gigs as both a full-time management consultant and concert cellist.
Fast forward a year and the 28-year-old can now be found enjoying life as a digital nomad, having sold nearly all his worldly goods and making his way around Australia in a trusty old sedan.
“COVID, as tragic as it has been, really gave me the opportunity to rethink. I finally have enough time in my days to be able to do everything I want to do. I don’t feel constantly like I have a weight on my shoulders,” Conrad told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Thanks to the impact of COVID-19, many of us could wish the year 2020 away.
But just like Conrad following his dream, or new parents like Ryan and Linelle who have welcomed children during lockdown, there has clearly been other good news too.
We’ve been touched by news of young people in our communities who connected with their elderly neighbours during lockdown and shopped for them, even cooked for them. Neighbours helping each other, that’s what it’s all about.
And anyone who enjoys an improvement in air quality rapidly discovered, among the tragedies of lives lost and families kept apart, there has been positive changes that we can take forward to 2021 and beyond.
Kindness and human resilience
Mood Active, an organisation that runs exercise programs that empower people to better manage their mental health, says there are many stories of hope, kindness and human resilience that have shone through which may never have come to light were it not for COVID-19.
It points to the positive social impacts as a great example.
Coronavirus restrictions have been credited with saving hundreds of Australian lives – people that may no longer be with us if social distancing measures hadn’t been implemented and influenza transmission had remained high.
Figures from the Australian Medical Association show that from January to June 2020 there were just 36 deaths from the flu. That compares to 430 deaths in the same period for 2019.
In total, from January to the end of June 2019, more than 132,000 people were diagnosed with the flu. This year, almost 21,000 people were diagnosed during the same period.
At the height of the pandemic there were fears that smoking – either e-cigarettes or the traditional kind – increased a person’s susceptibility to contracting the coronavirus. While there was insufficient evidence to support this theory, there was a 310 per cent increase in the number of people downloading the government’s My Quitbuddy smoking app.
Likewise, another unexpected positive to come from experiencing the impact of a health pandemic in this country was the number of children in foster care who were expected to benefit from an anticipated increase in foster adoption.
A report released in April, Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Out-of-Home Care in Australia, found the Australian community is motivated to provide care for children in need and potential carers enter the foster care system when they have less time pressures, as they re-evaluate their priorities.
Many of Australia’s abandoned pets also have good reason to be grateful to the way in which COVID-19 has changed Australia for the better.
As more people began to work from home, they decided to open their home-offices to furry co-workers, and national animal welfare site, Pet Rescue, witnessed a record-breaking number of pets finding their furever loving homes!
In just three months 20,350 adoptions were successfully made while the number of listed pets plunged below 3,000 compared to an average of between 7,000 and 8,000.
A breath of fresh air
2020 was also the year many Australians found it a little easier to breathe after we lived through the biggest carbon crash ever recorded.
Due largely to the fact there were fewer planes in the sky, less cars on the roads, and many polluting factories were temporarily shut down, the COVID-19 pandemic was expected to cause a 2,000 million tonne emission drop this year – dwarfing the impact of the GFC which caused a 450-million-tonne fall in global CO2 emissions.
We can only hope that at least as far as the above achievements are concerned, the momentum will continue well beyond 2021.