The jury is still out as to all the lessons to learn from Coronavirus. And history will be the final judge whether we as a society and as individuals acted responsibly and with compassion.
Brief reviews of the 1918 influenza epidemic history suggest missteps on the part of the national and state leaders. Some gave misinformation and others false information. Sound familiar? And as a result, more lives were lost along with public trust. The truth and the facts shared in understandable ways would have been helpful then and are desperately needed now in the 2020 pandemic. It is not too late to improve this communication about the virus and have it coordinated, consistent, coherent and truthful. We need a national plan with resources. We are the United States of America suffering from the pandemic, not just states
In a crisis, whether in the family or societal, we find our weakness and strength in the structure, relationships and resources. The coronavirus pandemic crisis is revealing of our lack of preparedness for such a health outbreak, with our hospitals, and health departments under capacity and underfunded. Those of us living in rural areas know that hospitals are non-existent. These shortfalls should teach us how to prepare and plan for the next pandemic.
However, we also find strengths despite that weakness. Many health professionals and health care workers willing to put in long hours and are putting their lives at risk to help save lives and stave off the severe effects of the virus. Their overworking also tells us we need more trained health professionals and health care workers in society; it is in our national interest.
Another apparent lesson is the interdependence of our economy and our society. We need each other. As human beings, we know this intellectually, but sometimes we fail to understand emotionally how my success depends on others’ well-being. Now COVID-19 has made that lesson abundantly clear. It is difficult for me to operate my business if all my employees or their children are sick. Further, we learn how small businesses, which rely on the health and strength of their workers, are the underpinning of big companies. Our country’s economy is interdependent on the health and well-being of the country’s citizenry.
As individuals during this virus, we have the opportunity to strengthen our faith, learn patience, learn new hobbies, find new ways to communicate with our family and friends. Don’t worry too much about the losses in your 401(K) or your annuity. Help your neighbor from a distance.
Eva Clayton is a former U.S. congresswoman and former U.N. official with the Food Agriculture Organization who resides in Warren County.