March has always been about madness. Watching college basketball teams from Kentucky, Georgetown or North Carolina play in the annual “March Madness” tournament is a rite of spring. I don’t follow basketball, except in March. Not in 2020. The madness this March is a pandemic named COVID-19.
Like the pandemic itself, the sense of urgency and alarm has been contagious.
Phrases like “self-quarantine” and “flatten the curve” are now hashtags and rallying cries for action. Uncertainty is the word of the week. Stock markets don’t like uncertainty, which is what led to panic selling. Companies lost billions off their bottom line in days.
Professional sports leagues suspended or shutdown their seasons. Sports broadcasters were forced to become health commentators. Coaches stumbled through their reactions to the rug being pulled out from under their championship quests. Service industry workers supporting professional sports were suddenly unemployed. It was sobering to learn of Sophie Grégoire Trudeau being diagnosed with the virus, causing her husband to go into self-quarantine.
And this, officials say, is just the beginning. Will schools or churches be the next to close? How many hundreds or thousands will be infected?
Crisis Leadership COVID-19
Canadians seem to have come around to the idea that this is the greatest public health crisis this country has faced in generations. There is a realization that things are going to get worse but that should not be grounds for panic.
Few officials are performing better at tempering panic levels than Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Health Officer for Alberta. She is the silver lining in the dark cloud of this crisis. Through her daily news conferences, thousands of Albertans have come to see Hinshaw as a source of reassurance. Her calm is contagious. I trust her leadership.
The basics of crisis leadership are simple: Tell the truth. Give people what they need without lecturing. Don’t duck questions. Be clear. Personal warmth is a bonus. Hinshaw is the epitome of a competent spokesperson. She explains not just what’s being done, but why the measures are necessary, now and for the future.
Dr Deena Hinshaw
“I want to be clear that a lot of the measures we’re recommending are measures that it’s important Albertans think about and are prepared to take. Although the risk of exposure at this time is low, I think it would be advisable for people to start thinking about, if they’re out in public, people who are obviously ill. Staying two metres away is a really good idea. Things like hand-washing; if somebody does cough or sneeze making sure that they’re covering that cough or sneeze; most importantly staying home when sick is the critical advice I would give to Albertans.”
Hinshaw cautions us not to turn to “misinformation.” That’s why she supplies so much detail – so people won’t go looking for it somewhere less reliable.
We’re going to get through this crisis and it will be people like Hinshaw that show the way.
APPLICATION: How has COVID-19 affected you? What are you doing to stay calm and protected in this crisis? Do you have a story to share about COVID-19? Please leave a comment below.
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