Lessons We Have Learned From COVID (so far)
COVID-19 has been a time in our history that we will not soon forget. We are living in a historical and tumultuous time, that has been fraught with loss, loneliness, confusion, and anger. In this time of pain and frustration, we can take solace in knowing that we have acquired some important knowledge about ourselves and our fellow Americans. Despite multiple obstacles, we have come together and pulled through to resume life with some sense of normalcy. Looking back on almost a year into this pandemic, here are some lessons we have learned so far.
Simple and Easy Are Very Different Things.
COVID-19 has made us accustomed to something that was wide spread in many countries prior to the pandemic, wearing masks. Wearing a mask, even when feeling ill, was not common for most people prior to 2020. As a society, we are taught the important of washing our hands before eating or after using the restroom, yet there was little accountability prior to the outbreak of Covid-19.
There is nothing simpler than wearing a mask and washing your hands to minimize the spread of a deadly disease. Yet I am still amazed at how difficult it was to implement mandatory masking in a short time. It continues to be a challenge even today with those who don’t believe masks work or that wearing one is a rights infringement. For the most part, the stigma (and politics) around wearing a mask has been lifted and we can wear our creative masks proudly!
Taking Care of the People Who Take Care of the Public is Vital
The best way we, as Americans, can support quality patient care across public health factions, both during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, is to support the amazing individuals who provide direct care every day. They are tired, they are stressed, and they are there when the patients’ families cannot be. We have a solemn honor and obligation to take care of our front-line people physically, spiritually and emotionally. But also remember: We all are taking care of someone, whether at home or work, so we must make sure to care for ourselves along the way too. That is the key to resilience.
These heroes are just some of the frontline workers that risk themselves and their families to help sick strangers. If you know someone that works in healthcare, be sure to tell them how much you appreciate them.
Trust the experts — But Not Everyone Who Speaks Is An Expert.
We are fortunate in this country and throughout our health care system to have amazing experts. However, it has been frustrating to see social media question basic science. Even within our health care organization, some amazingly intelligent people act from a place of fear over facts.
We Cannot Live in Crisis Forever. We Must Redefine Normal.
The task ahead of us is to play this hand we have been dealt and find the path to move from crisis management to care management, from incident command to recovery and from abnormal to the new normal — at least for now. COVID-19 is not an aberrancy: It is our reality, and we need to respond in a more matter-of-fact manner.
Any person headed into the working world in the last year has been shown who the true essential staff are. In order to know that you will always have job opportunities, look around at who was still employed when the country shut down. They are the healthcare workers, garbage collectors, police officers, funeral workers, and mechanics, just to name a few. These are the folks that were more likely to remain employed in an emergency. Many of them risked their health and safety in order to still do their job and help others. If you are looking for a career or changing careers, now is the time to secure your future by choosing a career where you will always be needed.
There Is Always Hope.
Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19 or know others who have. Many of us have struggled financially. It has been a painful year for the majority of the population, but our experts have worked, and continue to work, tirelessly to minimize the effects of this pandemic. Notably, Covid-19 is the first plague that has had to contend with science and technology. The Black Plague that struck Europe 700 years ago killed half the population.
Within the last year, we were able to spread information quickly, use technology to track exposure, as well as quickly develop and distribute a vaccine. The research that has been conducted to understand this virus has helped the world’s population determine how to stay as safe as possible. Hurray, Science!
Covid-19 has taught us many lessons and shone a light on all sides of humanity. While hate and divisiveness reared its ugly head, our philanthropic side shone through. Tech-savvy members of society have been able to develop and educate the public on ways to keep us connected, even when we are apart. 2020 may not have been your year, but looking forward to 2021 and beyond, there is hope. Hope for a healthier world with healthier, stronger people. If you are struggling and need help, just remember that you are not alone, and there are people who can help.
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