The battle with Covid-19 will require help from all of us in the days ahead.
I remember the assassination of President Kennedy, Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon as well as the 9/11 bombings. You may remember them too. These were defining moments. The covid-19 pandemic is turning into another such defining moment for all of us now. What is the best way to deal with it?
First the Basics About What We Face
The experts tell us that while the infections may peak in a few weeks, the coronavirus pandemic could last for another 12 to 18 months. In the absence of a vaccine, the only real solution appears to be to develop a herd immunity, that is, after at least half the population has had the infection, we ultimately become immune to it. That could take two or three years and there is no guarantee event that will work. Alternatively, and hopefully most likely, a vaccine will be developed and then widespread inoculation will take place. The experts tell us probably that could take a year or more. Who knows?
Meanwhile, we have watched news about the challenges that the covid-19 virus has brought to America’s health care system. Some of the revelations such as: American athletes getting tested while others wait in line, a 17-year old young man dying because a hospital would not treat him because of a lack of medical insurance, and America running out of ventilators and basic protective gear to treat patients for front line health care workers have been very discouraging. They have highlighted some of our worst moments.
Economically, the news that over six million applicants filed unemployment claims this week and that the total unemployed in March of this year alone has risen to over ten million has been staggering. And that does not include the two or three million foreign workers who have likely become jobless suddenly as well.
Disruptions to the food chain from confusing government policy related to itinerant foreign workers raises another concern. The high unemployment numbers appear to have convinced the administration that there will be American workers ready to step into the jobs that these foreign workers used to do. Thus, although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency in a March 19th, 2020 letter identified seasonal farm workers as essential workers to American infrastructure, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico announced a halt to such visa interviews and the result may be labor problems. Without these workers, not to mention undocumented foreign workers who are essential, spring planting won’t get done creating a longer term problem with food supply.
Social distancing is needed in the fight against the Corona virus pandemic
All these shocking developments have us reeling. But as we address these seemingly titanic problems, there are many good things happening as well.
How We Are Adapting
For one thing, relationships between people are warmer, total strangers seem to be more polite, helpful and accommodating for the most part. There is a sense of community that has arisen as we care for one another. Perhaps it is just because we sense that there is mortal danger involved. There is the sense that we are equally vulnerable, although we are told that older people are more at risk. Keeping physical distancing has required us to be more flexible in allowing others to go ahead of us, or pass us while we stand by. We are learning that we should wear non-medical face masks to protect one another.
Isolated as we are, we are learning new ways to interact with one another. For example, in my case I have now been on a few Zoom calls. Before the outbreak, I never seemed to have the time to learn the technology and that meant I never used it. I do now. There is a dawning realization that we are more connected to each other than we realized previously. Globalization, in the sense that what the Chinese are doing affects what we are doing, as an example, is increasingly apparent to us.
A recent article raised some other good points. Most people with COVID-19 recover. Estimates now suggest that 99% of people infected with the virus will recover. Children seem to be infected less often and have milder disease. According to the CDC, the vast majority of infections so far have afflicted adults. The number of new cases is falling where the outbreak began. China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining epidemics.
Thank God we have the internet. It is helping us communicate a lot. People in isolation or quarantine can ask for help, visit friends, see family and doctors virtually, and provide updates on their condition. Our response to future pandemics should also improve because this one has exposed shortcomings in healthcare systems throughout the world that provide an opportunity for us to improve them. Many people and organizations have stepped up to help. Some major health insurers have promised to cover care and testing related to COVID-19, and some celebrities and professional athletes and business people have donated significant resources to help those taking a financial hit because of the pandemic.
Who We Need To Be Thankful to Especially
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – APRIL 2: UCSF nurses hold a rally before dawn to protest a lack of personal … [+]
Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images
Let us not forget to be thankful to all those who work daily in the front lines to save us – the doctors, nurses, lab technicians, first responders, police officers, fire fighters and all the others. Let us also be thankful for the tremendous leadership we have seen across the country by those who care for us and seek to marshal the resources needed to win this battle. Let us not forget our families and neighbors who are helping us daily and remind us of our humanity.
A Better Life Ahead
In short, the pandemic has given us opportunities to re-imagine the world and our place in it. No doubt we will face even more challenges. But while we deal with the difficulties visited upon us and mourn our losses, let us take note of the good that has entered our lives as well. We will survive this challenge, no matter what it takes, and return to a different life – hopefully better than the one we once had.