The past few weeks have been a whirlwind as Covid-19 has made it’s way to Arkansas and we are feeling the effects. Working in an IT security capacity is stressful enough but hearing constant news about new coronavirus cases brings a whole new level of pressure. To make matters worse there have been at least two hospitals in our state in the last thirty days stricken with cyber security incidents instigated by malicious actors that only heightens a feeling of eminent threat.
There is some good news, though even that has some sadness associated. My sons are both home from college unexpectedly. Their campus started spring break a week early, sending all students back out into the world. My boys came home, and their mother and I are certainly happy to have them there. However, my sons recognized before they left that as senior-levels they likely would not come back. Sure enough, the campus notified them over the weekend that all remaining classes would be online only, and graduation ceremonies are suspended. They have another week of spring break followed by four weeks of online studies. One is frantically applying for jobs in an environment that is not hopeful for new grads. The other is waiting until his med school starts in late summer but is also otherwise unemployed.
I am also on spring break since I went back to grad school last summer to pursue a masters degree. My mentor at work has been very encouraging in that regard, and I’m happy to report I had an “A” in my first class in over thirty years! So far this semester’s class is also going well. I wish I could take more than one class a term, so now that I’ve survived almost two semesters I will explore taking more than one at a time in the future.
So much is going on. I mentioned a pair of cyber security events in other Arkansas hospitals. Sadly, this might benefit my company. We have struggled to get funding for the projects we think could help reduce risks the most, and we are in the process of getting those monies now. I hate it that my “neighbors” have been hit, but the sense of urgency that has created should help us address our own needs. It is especially troublesome to me that hospitals shouldering such an incredible job with the coronavirus are being targeted by cyber criminals: what a sad state our world has come to.
At the same time, that sense of urgency around my job gives me and my coworkers an awareness that what we do matters. Being involved in healthcare is still a fulfilling mission and calling, and my team’s role in helping to protect us from bad actors is necessary. My job is a blessing in so many ways.
My personal encouragement to everyone: do what you can to fight the spread of this virus. Social distancing will help, though I’m sure that is not all we will have to do to end this. We have not hit our peak of new cases yet. In fact, we are likely very early in the curve and it’s going to get worse. Best estimates at this point are another 6-8 weeks before life has any chance of returning to normality. Personally I think normal is going to be gone much longer than that. Protect yourself and your families, look out for your friends and neighbors, and do what you can do to stop the spread of this: taking your medicine now will be much easier than taking it later.