One of the intriguing issues that developed due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the overwhelming amount of information and guidance. This brought to mind two proverbs: “Haste makes waste” and “Patience is a virtue.”

While these proverbs are propagated throughout our lives because they are self-evident, it bodes well to reflect on what their meanings truly are. “Haste makes waste” is about doing things in a careful and precise manner. Things that are rushed or done in a less than careful manner can result in waste of effort, time and resources. When care and precision are practiced, there can be greater efficiency in accomplishing the complete task.

“Patience is a virtue” may not be as obvious in its meaning. In my opinion, it means that it is a good quality to continue working on something that takes a long time to achieve.

These two proverbs have significant relevance to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For example, consider the research regarding the transmission of the SARS CoV-2 virus. Although a significant amount of research has gone into this topic, the transmission of the virus is still not fully understood. Early research indicated that the virus was mainly spread through droplet and contact transmission, while research that is more recent indicates in certain circumstances that the virus can be aerosolized more readily than previously thought and that airborne transmission of the virus may be possible. 

By being thoughtful and considering all possible aspects of transmission or, in other words, not making a hasty decision, the American Society for Health Care Engineering’s (ASHE’s) recommendation to place positive COVID-19 patients in negative-pressure rooms may have protected many staff members and other individuals from possible exposure to the virus. Additionally, being patient as necessary research continues while actively monitoring and reporting the latest developments is vital. 

ASHE continues to encourage thoughtful and patient perspectives regarding decisions that impact the physical environment based on key principles of 1) reducing risk; 2) improving the status quo; and 3) supporting better patient outcomes.