Pandemic Panic—Pause

Pandemic Panic—Pause

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published May 2020

Photo by

The United States and the whole world are experiencing multiple crises on several fronts—health, economic, and emotional. Many are worried and depressed, hoarding groceries, holding medical equipment hostage to the highest bidder, and watching the stock market drop. People are saying, “This has never happened before. Will we survive? Will my family be okay? Will I have a paycheck next week?” Let’s just pause a moment and take a look back into history.

     On the HEALTH CRISIS FRONT not only did we survive past pandemics, but tremendous advances were made in medicine.1

1903—Mass-produced needles and syringes

1918—Spanish flu pandemic strikes
     This flu pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide and killed up to 50 million—an even more devastating death toll than World War I. More than 25 percent of the U.S. population became sick. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) introduced the epidemic mask made from sterile gauze.

1933—Scientists isolate human influenza virus

1936—First flu vaccine is introduced

1945—First U.S. influenza vaccine approved

1954—Disposable hypodermic needles and syringes invented

1957–1958—Asian flu pandemic hits
     Second major influenza pandemic of the 20th century, killing about two million worldwide, including almost 70,000 in the United States. The virus was first identified in China in 1956. It spread to Singapore by February 1957, Hong Kong by April, and the U.S. by June.

1968–1969—Hong Kong flu pandemic strikes
     The third major flu pandemic of the century, the Hong Kong pandemic, killed about one million people worldwide, accounting for 34,000 deaths in the United States.

1977–1978—Russian flu pandemic spreads
     Considered the fourth pandemic of the 20th century, there is no accurate death count on record. This outbreak started in China and Russia but eventually spread worldwide—mainly affecting people under the age of 25.

1978—Researchers unveil first trivalent vaccine

1999—Two new ways to ease flu symptoms

2003—Nasal vaccine approved

2007—First vaccine for avian influenza (H5N1) approved

2009—Universal flu vaccine

2009—Swine flu (H1N1) pandemic
     The H1N1 pandemic—caused by the same strain of virus responsible for the 1918 pandemic—originated in Mexico and spread rapidly, killing up to a half-million people worldwide. There were about 60 million reported cases of infection, with more than 274,000 hospitalizations and upward of 12,000 deaths in the United States.

2012—FDA approves quadrivalent vaccine

2014—New option to relieve flu symptoms

2019—COVID-19 Pandemic
     Coronavirus (COVID-19) originated in China and spread rapidly, creating a worldwide pandemic. The medical inventions and innovations are yet to be seen, but already there is an unprecedented collaboration between private American companies and the U. S. government to provide medical supplies, hospital beds, vaccines, and aid to millions of Americans. With internet technologies, Americans are staying connected while hunkered down at home.

     On the ECONOMIC CRISIS FRONT, the stock markets always came back.2

Black Tuesday

     On Black Tuesday in 1929 over a four-day period, the Dow Jones dropped 25 percent and lost $30 billion in market value—the equivalent of $396 billion today. It was this crash that kicked off the Great Depression in the United States.

Black Monday

     On October 19, 1987, the Dow shed 22 percent in a single day, ending a five-year bull market. It was a drop that came out of nowhere. Surprisingly, the crash only lasted one day, and the market soon climbed back to its highs.

Tech Bubble Crash

     The 1990s were a period of rapid technological development, and the commercialization of the internet caused valuations of internet-based companies to soar. By 2001, the majority of new tech companies disappeared from existence, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of investor money to go to zero.

Housing Market Crash

     In 2008, the housing market collapsed. Over the course of 2008, the Dow fell almost 34 percent, and it wasn’t until early 2009 that it began to climb again. Once real estate prices began to drop and the federal funds rate began to rise, credit in the U.S. froze, leading to an economic collapse.

Global Stock Market Downturn

     In September 2018, the S&P 500 index peaked at 2930 on its September 20 close and dropped 19.73 percent to 2351 by Christmas Eve. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) falls 18.78 percent during roughly the same period. 

February 2020 Stock Market Crash

     The COVID-19 outbreak caused a worldwide pandemic, supply disruptions, and nervousness among traders, leading to a steep U.S. stock market plunge that wiped out three-year gains. Stock markets around the world fell simultaneously amid the turmoil.

     On the EMOTIONAL CRISIS FRONT, the human psyche has suffered but is resilient and will survive and find meaning.3

     Right now, most everyone in the world is learning to live with loss—sickness, death, joblessness, and lost income. To survive these losses, individuals may go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

     Denial is the first stage of grief and is characterized by shock and numbness and a feeling that you cannot go on. The emotional pain is so great that the body shuts down all feelings.

     After having been numb, anger is usually the feeling felt first, and it’s not pleasant. Anger can explode inward to yourself or outward to friends, family, doctors, and God.

     Then comes bargaining, questioning, and looking back at what went wrong. There is a lot of self-talk—“if only,” “what if,” “why me,”—making promises and deals with one’s self, others, or God, and hoping you’ll wake up from this bad dream.

     Then grief enters its deepest level, depression. It’s that horrible fog of emptiness and despair filled with hopelessness. The numbness is worse than in the denial stage.

     The next step is acceptance, which is sometimes misunderstood. Acceptance is not being “ok” with what has happened, but it is an acknowledgment and acceptance of reality. Things are not going to be exactly the same as they were.

     Some experts have added a sixth stage of grief—meaning. It is very possible after acceptance there is a different and deeper meaning to our personal lives. We have seen this—after 9/11 some people found meaning in founding Tunnel to Towers. After years of war, others found meaning in Wounded Warriors. After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Cajun Navy gave meaning to many people. It remains to be seen what new meaning there will be after the COVID-19 pandemic.

     What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)



3 Five Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler –

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

Florida CAM Schools

     Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. Subscribe to CAM MattersTM on YouTube. For more information, contact, call (352) 326-8365, or visit