This week, Americans will pause to reflect on a year that most, frankly, would rather forget.
Indeed, even as families try to figure out how to connect over the Thanksgiving holiday, businesses across the country — especially retailers, restaurants and others that interact with living, breathing customers — are grappling with a sharp increase in the spread of the coronavirus, leading to devastating clusters of absenteeism and a return of stricter government limits.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc across our world, our nation and our industry since the virus was first discovered a little more than a year ago. More than 1.3 million humans have died so far because of the virus, including more than 250,000 Americans. Millions who are considered to have recovered from COVID-19 have been left with serious conditions. And broad swaths of the economy — travel, entertainment, dining — have been badly damaged.
But one need not be a blind optimist to find many things for which to be grateful — especially in the auto industry.
Keeping the costs of this deadly virus squarely in mind, we should take a moment this week to consider the remarkable ways that manufacturers and retailers have risen to challenges.
Let’s give thanks, for example, for the way that automakers, suppliers and others retooled on the fly to answer an emergency need for ventilators and personal protective equipment — doing so without regard to profit.
Let us offer thanks for those who foresaw the need to develop automotive digital retailing tools, because their work allowed millions to continue to put food on their family’s tables even as the virus rages.
Let us give thanks to those who figured out safe ways to restart and operate factories, and to those who went back to work on the line despite uncomfortable new safety protocols, allowing an entire industry to roar back.
And let us thank, especially, those who continue to fight this virus in hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as the researchers whose work is now promising lifesaving vaccines in record time.
The human and financial losses of the coming months will be steep. But COVID-19’s months are numbered, lighting the path to brighter days ahead.
And that is something for which we can all be thankful.