The Greatest Light Comes After the Greatest Darkness

We Shall See…

December 31st, 2020, approached with excitement. This time unlike most years, the excitement was much different.

Everything was normal for New Year's Eve in Times Square, with one major exception, there were no revelers. The final countdown of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year came and went with very few people in attendance.

The death, loss, destruction, sadness, unemployment was all behind us as the calendar turned to 2021. The dawn was upon us.

With the clock ticking down to midnight, I sat on my couch next to my wife, clicking between channels. ABC had Ryan Seacrest and New Year's Rocking Eve. CNN had Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen after a few too many drinks, pure gold. After the clock struck midnight and I wished my beautiful wife an appropriate Happy New Year, we went to clean up the kitchen.

My task was to put the food in the refrigerator, which this evening was like 3-D Tetris. Moving the tomatoes into place meant the game was done, or so I thought.

At the last moment, a very full, double package of blueberries fell to the kitchen floor (slow motion in my head). Blueberries were EVERYWHERE. My wife looked down at me sitting on the floor picking up blueberries and said, "this is not an encouraging start to the year."

The month that followed my unfortunate blueberry incident makes us all a little uneasy about 2021.

Without getting into all the specifics that have been widely reported on, politically, economically, and emotionally 2021 continued the downward spiral begun in 2020. The hope shared by many that 2021 would help us turn a corner is falling as quickly as the ill-fated blueberries.

The shadow of the long, cold, dark winter looms large over the nation. During January, more people died each day from COVID-19 (on average) than all who perished in 9/11. Cases continue to rise in 36 states. In Los Angeles county, with hospitals out of capacity and pushed to the brink, extreme measures are being put into place to allow for more cremations to alleviate the system's strain.

Will improvements in vaccine distribution curb the mounting death toll? We shall see…

Vaccine distribution efforts in many states have slowed to a crawl. On January 23rd, the Wall Street Journal noted, "at current vaccination rates, full herd immunity may take more than a year." The supply is just not keeping up with demand as the death toll continues to rise. Governor Cuomo noted inoculation of the current group of eligible patients would take 7.5 months at current supply levels.

Will supply increase to meet demand? We shall see…

The new-minted Biden Administration has moved quickly to untangle the mess left by the last administration. Several executive orders have been signed to ensure that the pandemic is put under control by mobilizing the federal government's full power.

Will a new administration be able to act fast enough? We shall see…

Important lessons were learned during 2020, no more important than having patience. We do not have the ability to look into the future and see what will happen. Having hope for a better future is our best weapon.

The light, though small, is there and getting brighter. Cases will begin to fall. Vaccinations will get into arms. We will turn a corner.

We shall see…

Etan Walls is Principal of Strong Walls Consulting and author of the upcoming book The Mega Factory of Healthcare. Strong Walls Consulting provides operational, strategic, and tactical assistance to healthcare organizations, large and small. Previously, Mr. Walls was the COO of the largest independent outpatient Pediatric group in the United States. He has mentored many startup Healthcare IT organizations with his brand of innovative, forward-thinking leadership. All inquiries should go to etanwalls@gmail.com