Persevering in a Pandemic: 8 Tips from an Epidemiologist

Do you lead an association or not-for-profit organization? In CSAE’s most popular interview series ever, Toronto-based epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman shared his insights into the emergence, progression and control of COVID-19.

In three talks held in March, June and October of 2020, the infectious disease specialist discussed what to expect, how to prepare and tips for future event planning.


We’ve distilled Dr. Fisman’s comments into these important takeaways to help you persevere during this pandemic.

Be proactive with pandemic countermeasures.

The economic costs of fighting this pandemic will be high, but it’s always less expensive if you are proactive about introducing restrictions. The virus has an exponential growth process, so it’s much harder to act when the situation is already out of hand.

Harness technology to maintain productivity.

This is the time to embrace working from home. Ten years ago, we couldn’t have done it, but now we can.

Turn lemons into lemonade.

We are all excited to meet and share information. For event planners, it’s a glorious moment to embrace virtual connectivity as much as possible. In-person events scheduled for Winter 2021 will probably need to be cancelled. Be creative with alternatives.

Prepare for future waves.

Anticipate a series of little crises for 18 months to two years, as people move from place to place and repeatedly re-seed this virus. Be prepared.

Predictable is controllable.

Once a disease becomes predictable, it becomes controllable. We are starting to understand transmission and where it happens. If you can avoid those situations, you can really control this pandemic.

Avoid the 3Cs.

Mandatory masks, increased testing and the 3Cs – avoiding closed spaces, crowded places and close contact situations – are critical to controlling the virus. Use the 3Cs to manage your own risk.

Disease control is about leadership and messaging.

You’re asking people to do things and if they don’t trust you, nothing else matters. At the end of the day, it’s about leaders who can take action effectively and share important information. Look around the world at different experiences. In this context, copycatting is good and functional.

Be kind.

Pace yourself. Know that this is not forever, and it is not the new normal. Take care of yourself the best you can. Sleep, exercise and eat well. Be kind to others, because this is miserable for everyone. Put one foot in front of the other – we’ve come a long way and this will end!

Hear the latest from Dr. David Fisman on Feb 10, 2021

Dr. Fisman will be sharing his expertise as the closing keynote speaker at CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau’s virtual Tête-à-Tête on February 10, 2021. He’ll discuss how upcoming vaccinations will affect the path of the disease through 2021. Don’t miss this chance to prepare for the future.

If you are an association professional or event planner, you can register for free — here. (Business members and suppliers interested in attending can apply to exhibit here).

Listen to CSAE’s previous interviews with Dr. Fisman:

March 2020

June 2020

October 2020

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