If I had a formal list of “things I’d rather not do again,” rescheduling a conference would be at the top. 

It’s not very much fun. But it’s necessary because the coronavirus pandemic we’re dealing with has created a situation that is beyond anyone’s control. That means we adapt, adjust and make the best of it.

The Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo, originally scheduled for April 26-29, will now be held Sept. 13-16. It will still be at the Doral resort in Miami, and we still have a great lineup of speakers. We’ll still have a golf outing, the Plant of the Year and Sustainable Plant of the Year celebrations, and the expo exhibitors.

It will be the same, but different. That’s a phrase I’ve been using a lot lately, and I imagine you have as well. This is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my career or even my life. In my time as a journalist, I’ve covered a lot of big stories and disaster-level events, but I can’t say I’ve ever had this same experience.

I know it’s the same for you, and I know that a lot—if not most or all—of you are spending a lot of sleepless nights wondering what’s next and how you’re going to deal with it. Then you’re probably dealing with a huge surge in demand due to people loading up at the grocery store on top of it. (At least you’re not in the toilet paper business right now.)

You at least have some experience dealing with demand surges, I’m sure. Here in suburban Chicago, the grocery stores are devoid of bread, eggs and milk anytime there’s a snowstorm coming because apparently people like to eat French toast when it snows. In other parts of the country, hurricane preparedness leads to runs on drinking water and canned goods.

But I don’t remember ever seeing a nationwide surge in demand quite like this. It’s unprecedented and it’s throwing us all for a loop.

I talk to a lot of people in the industry about the importance of planning and preparation, and we always discuss it in terms of what to do when a situation like this hits. A lot of very smart people spend their days planning and preparing for this scenario, and I’m sure that there are a lot of good plans in place already.

But it certainly feels overwhelming when you’re in the middle of it, especially when you throw in external pressures, such as spouses or kids being off work or school, and trying to comply with social distancing guidelines while still doing your job and looking out for loved ones who are elderly or have compromised immune systems.

There are no easy answers in a time like this, and anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something. We’re all scrambling, and we’re all hoping for just a minute to catch our breath before the next bit of bad news hits.

It’s certainly not what we signed up for. It’s not how we’d prefer to do our jobs or live our lives. But here we are, and the only way to go is forward.