As the world enters the fourth year of the COVID pandemic, it is increasingly clear as new ripples of impact spread from the initial catastrophic health crisis — we aren’t in the clear just yet.
One year ago we predicted four particular challenges to pandemic recovery we would need to grapple with in 2022. How have the events that transpired over the intervening months aligned with our predictions? Let’s see.
U.S. Local, State, and Federal Governments in Opposition to One Another
Prediction | Vaccine mandates exposed the differing (and sometimes conflicting) views between city, state and local governments with regard to the legality of executive orders, in addition to the fundamental role of government with regard to public safety.
Update | As COVID has moved from catastrophic to nearly endemic over the last 3 years, pre-pandemic activity mostly resumed course in 2022. So, it would be easy to miss that there are still more than 50,000 active cases and hundreds of deaths attributed to the virus on any given day. The rise of an early flu season this fall, amid an RSV outbreak and new omicron variants, means that hospital capacity is stretched thin again. While some municipalities like L.A. County consider reviving indoor masking policies, and the Biden administration has extended the federal COVID public health emergency into 2023, state governments in Washington and West Virginia have begun to let their emergency status expire.
The Private Sector is Caught in the Crossfire
Prediction | With a conspicuous lack of unity among state and local government around vaccine mandates, private employers set their own requirements to protect their workforce and financial interests.
Update | A study by Mercer found that more than one third of employers still require COVID vaccination, but enforcement has become significantly less aggressive as some courts have been critical of vaccine mandates. As for boosters, the approach many firms are taking is more akin to the annual flu vaccine — education, accommodation and encouragement. One notable exception is the healthcare sector, where mandated vaccinations for many communicable diseases have been consistently upheld in court.
Supply Chain Disruptions Continue
Prediction | Ongoing retail demand, paired with supply chain bottlenecks, will encourage companies to keep devising business innovations as shortages shift among materials and transportation availability.
Update | While the specifics have shifted in myriad ways, supply chain challenges are still very much present as 2022 comes to an end. Both overstocks and stockouts are commonplace as retailers try to manage inventories that swing wildly from one extreme to another. Meanwhile, thought leaders and industry behemoths alike are behaving as predicted by developing new ways of precisely matching supply and demand.
The Great Resignation
Prediction | Fueled by employment challenges throughout the pandemic, employees have realized their own power and companies must adapt to remain competitive.
Update | More than a year into the Great Resignation, the labor market still favors workers and employers are embracing incentives, like remote work and higher salaries, to lure new recruits and retain current employees. However, with inflation an ongoing concern and the shadow of recession overhead, signs of a softening market may be on the horizon as certain industries, like tech, began sweeping layoffs in the fourth quarter. In the meantime, a robust, comprehensive employee benefits package has long given organizations an edge when competition for talent is strong.
Considering how these issues have evolved over the past 12 months helps us to understand where we’ve been — and, moreso, open our minds to what 2023 might bring.