Two weeks ago, as news of the effects of the Coronavirus began to be more concerning, I began to stock up on necessities and non perishable food. I didn’t go crazy or buy canned goods – too much sodium. On the first day I went to the grocery store, there was no shortage of bleach, Clorox wipes, Lysol, toilet paper or paper towels. Clearly people weren’t concerned yet. I grabbed a large container of Clorox wipes – I use them anyway and an extra package each of toilet paper and paper towels.

Buying a quart of yogurt with an expiration date of some time in April seemed like a smart purchase, as did a carton of brown eggs. I tossed a package of dried fruit and some granola into my cart, along with an extra Multi-grain loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread to freeze. There were already two jars of peanut butter and an assortment of jams in my cabinet. PB and J sandwiches can sustain one for awhile.

And then I meandered through the grocery store as I usually do, checking these items off the list – fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. Dog food. Bottled water. I had nearly a full 24-pack at home, but another one seemed like a good idea.

I wasn’t panicking, but it couldn’t hurt to start to be prepared.

Last Friday night I went to a wake, hugged a lot of people, including an old friend with whom I then went out to dinner. While we were enjoying our halibut and wine, I recalled that the friend had been at a conference in Boston the week before. We didn’t share any food, but I was slightly concerned that he had been at a large gathering in a big city. It wasn’t the Biogen conference and it wasn’t held at the same place. Sigh of relief? A slight one. The next day I was involved in a local event attended by more than 250 people, most of them over 60 years old. I didn’t shake a single hand.

Before Coronavirus none of this interaction would have given me pause. Now, with what we know about the virus and how it spreads, I realize that I have no idea where any of these people had been in the previous 14 days and with whom. Such is the case all the time. We travel on planes, subways and trains, attend the theater, the symphony, conferences and events with dozens, even hundreds of others. We work alongside others, go out to lunch, dinner and for drinks with friends. Many of us wash our hands, use paper towels to open restroom doors, try to avoid sick people and go about our daily routines.

I create and produce events as part of my business. Most of the events I am working on now will be held months down the road – hopefully. A few events that were tentatively scheduled for next month and May will have to be planned further out. But, there are so many people in the events business who are being affected by the loss of work right now, because events are the core of their business. I’m praying for them – for all of us who are affected, not just in the events business, but in so many businesses that rely on people coming in the door.

It’s a time for all of us to be creative and to think out of the box. What events can be held virtually? How can businesses create new revenue streams that don’t rely on physical contact? What can businesses do to remain connected to their customers during this time? How can we all help each other? What can we work on now so that when this is all over, we’re ready to roll again?

If you are a small business worrying about how you’ll weather the economic fallout of this global pandemic, I don’t have a magic wand, but I am offering a one-hour complimentary marketing consultation to anyone who is looking for creative ideas, including social media content that might help.

Now is the time to be there for each other in any way we can help.