12 Lessons Learned (So Far) From the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Global Pandemic by Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
We find ourselves in unusual, uncertain times. Everyone responds differently to change and uncertainty. Perhaps we could all be served by learning something from the situation we find ourselves in. I know I’ve learned a lot (so far) during this global coronavirus pandemic. In addition, much of what I already knew and valued has been amplified:
- Facts matter. Leadership and transparency matter. Science matters.
- Social distancing (a term I’d never heard of until recently) saves lives. According to the experts, to minimize the spread of this disease and to avoid overwhelming our hospitals, we all need to practice it. Now.
- Health-care providers and first responders are angels among us. While the rest of us practice social distancing in the comfort of our homes, hoping to avoid germs as best we can, they report to work as usual, hoping to help as many people as they can. We owe them our appreciation.
- Employees who have been suggesting their work can be done remotely are correct, as it turns out, and if we continue to work in this manner, we will collectively reduce our carbon footprint.
- There actually are benefits to my son and his friends “hanging out” online. Social distancing isn’t affecting their ability to spend (virtual) time together, and their connection will help when boredom sets in.
- The COVID-19 outbreak may be highlighting the inequities in the U.S., but they’ve been there all along. Some of us have been screaming about and working in the name of injustice for what seems like ages; what we need is action and results from our elected officials. (Here’s a great example of leadership in action: U.S. Representative (CA) Katie Porter secures a promise from the director of the CDC that coronavirus testing will be free for all Americans. She may not have gotten credit for it when the news was announced, but we have her to thank for it.)
- The media and journalists are not “the enemy.” They are the watchdogs of our society, defenders of the first amendment. We need them to keep us informed. Those who call themselves journalists must follow a code of ethics, for example those established by the Society of Professional Journalists: “Seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent."
- We all need to vet sources and memes before sharing them on social media. If you’re unsure whether something is true, you can use Politifact.com or Snopes.com to fact check it.
- When people ask “Why does everything have to be political?” I wonder if it’s because Americans don’t have a shared definition of "political." Author Beth Skwarecki suggests: “Everything is political, and it always has been. Politics is what the government does, and what opinions people have about what the government should do. Politics dictates what you can do and say, and what options you have in living your life … Your ability to afford health insurance and to access care (or not) is political … it was shaped by the actions or inactions of a government … Being able to marry the person you love is political. Fearing that they will be deported is political … The fact that we go to war, and hang flags, and sing anthems and honor soldiers is political … The only way to pretend that something is ‘not political’ is to not have a stake in it.” This tends to align with my views, but I recognize that it may not align with others’ views.
- Corporations are able to step up and make a difference; many just choose not to.
- People are selfish. But people are also generous, compassionate and good at heart. We have a lot of both in this country. Choose to be the latter.
- COVID-19 is far more serious than we were originally led to believe. It is decidedly not “a hoax.” The CDC reports that during the 2018-2019 flu season, an estimated 35.5 million people fell sick with the flu, with 16.5 million visiting a health-care provider and 34,200 deaths reported. This makes the mortality (death) rate 0.96 percent, or roughly 0.1 percent. The (current) mortality rate for COVID-19 is between 3 and 4 percent, depending on the location (World Health Organization). We must take this seriously. It will take all of us to reduce the spread of the virus and, ultimately, save lives.
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