Point for Discussion:
It is very interesting that the coronavirus hit us in the year 2020. Isn’t it ironic that Hindsight is also 20/20? The point for discussion is that we now have a milestone in history, in the year 2020, from which we can now look back (for learning) and look forward to the future. For the next century, the coronavirus of 2020 will be the start of a new era. Let’s make it count.
Our Points of View:
It just hit me that the year of the coronavirus is 2020. Y2K was the year of expected chaos, planned for on a global level, and catastrophe avoided. Here we are 20 years later, in the year 2020, without a plan, but now with experience we can look back to in hindsight and look forward to with hope.
Hindsight is 20/20 – the challenges we have faced and the mistakes we have made can, in hindsight, be seen with clarity. Among them are:
- Lack of a pandemic plan – we have had them, but didn’t know about them or think to implement them – how easy it could have been to have everyone wear a mask and social distance immediately – simple things that could have saved lives.
- Lack of attention to the planet – with so many working from home, driving has stalled, and oil prices plummeted, as did air pollution – and now we have an opportunity to keep pollution down and businesses can save money on office space!
- Lack of care for our elderly citizens – no other country allows such disregard for caring for parents/grandparents. Only now are we able to (and willing to) see the incredible shortfall in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.
- Lack of education focus – while learning standards are critical, teachers have been forced to teach to the tests – and now, tests are being let go at all levels of education, including college
- Lack of financial equality – virtually everyone needs a safety net now. There is a role, and it’s becoming much clearer.
The news isn’t all bad because we now have hindsight – these past barriers can be converted into benefits for our society going forward with hope.
- We can create a pandemic plan, or implement what we have without shutting down the economy, which should never happen again where people have to choose between their health and their livelihood. I applaud the sacrifices and compliance with social distancing.
- We can take action to protect the planet by not resuming all of our past bad behaviors – maybe it’s time to start the transition from fossil fuels – the skies were amazingly clear because we couldn’t Now, maybe we shouldn’t drive quite as much as we used to.
- We can provide support and require accountability in nursing home care
- We can allow teachers the flexibility to do what they do well – teaching kids to learn, explore and be responsible citizens, which doesn’t require state tests that fail to recognize capability and grit
- We can have a safety net that truly helps people rise out of poverty – and we should never allow a person to feel they must live on the street (even the parking lot square spaces were more respectful than that).
All of the above would not only reflect a humanity that has been lacking, but would cost less than the trillions of dollars being expended to recover. Hindsight is 20/20. 2020 is the year. Corrective action is the way forward.
It certainly is ironic that this pandemic has exploded in 2020, though it started a bit earlier. It has provided us with an opportunity to see this situation very clearly and yes, it should change the way we approach global issues going forward.
The one thing I see very clearly at this point, is the need for true leadership around the world. The lack of leadership everywhere has allowed this virus to ravage the world nearly unchecked. That’s much easier to say in hindsight than perhaps it was when we somehow felt immune, just because we thought we could stop it at the gates. Too bad that we thought that well over two months after this virus had already made it to our shores. Looking back on the situation now, we should be able to see what could have been done to mitigate the potential spread, had our leaders been willing, in an election year, to stand up and do the difficult things like be prepared.
But as Laurie reminds us, the US was preparing for the inevitable pandemic prior to the current administration working to dismantle the preparedness, likely to help pay for the corporate tax cuts implemented in 2018. In hindsight, we should clearly recognize this as an error in judgement. We are mere mortals that cannot predict what may happen. The first thing a business owner should prepare for is the inevitable downturn in business and plans should be in place to mitigate the impact. It’s a shame that the “business leader” (clearly not public servant) elected to the highest office in the country was incapable of executing this basic business skill.
The second failing, as a Monday morning quarterback, is that we believed (again led by our fearless elected “business leader”) we could survive as a country without any outside assistance. Would our nation be stronger if we supported our population with good paying jobs? Absolutely. But when we are talking about health and safety issues, we are speaking about global initiatives that impact all populations in the same way. We can learn from scientists in other nations and all scientists should be willing and able to work with their global colleagues toward a common goal. While I see no evidence that the US leadership agrees with this, thank goodness the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes this and is working toward a global solution.
Our third failing is our health care system. We are seeing that people of color are suffering in larger numbers as this virus ravages our nation. There could be many reasons for this and over time, as the science develops, we may learn a lot. For now though, we should look at the availability of high quality healthcare in all communities. The health care industry has been protecting itself through congressional lobbying for decades. Our population deserves the availability of adequate healthcare for all.
On the positive side, the outpouring of assistance to provide food to communities in need has been spectacular. As schools closed and food programs for students were interrupted, community groups stepped up and have been working to ensure that no one is hungry during this pandemic.
We also clearly recognize the service of our medical professionals and front line workers during the early days of this pandemic. While we likely have several more months of restrictions and ongoing illness, we could never have gotten through without these selfless individuals who were willing to put themselves at risk every day to serve the greater good. Let’s take a look at working conditions and compensation for these heroes providing vital services. This will not be the last pandemic to be dealt with in our lifetimes. Let’s make sure we respect those that are most important.
So looking forward with 2020 vision, perhaps we could be smarter about what could happen and do our best to prevent a recurrence of the past 3 months. Where do we start? We need to start with science. Until there’s a vaccine, we need to be aware of the daily risks and do what is necessary to protect ourselves and those around us. We need to not behave like selfish children whining about the limitations forced upon us but rather like mature adults and compassionate Americans. We know that we can help ourselves by implementing basic precautions to reduce the spread of this virus.
- We can avoid placing ourselves in large groups of people we don’t know. Especially if these people don’t understand the significance of wearing a mask. Is a mask uncomfortable? YES!
I don’t really like wearing one either, but it is considerate to others. I have no idea if I could be spreading the virus, but I do know that I do not want to be responsible for someone becoming ill or worse. Face masks should become our newest fashion accessory. Let’s have some major social media influencers lead the way on this one.
- Employers can step up and work with their staff members that may not be feeling well. So many people go to work when they aren’t feeling well because they can’t afford to lose a paycheck. Business leaders need to support their team members with paid time off so that illness is not spread in the workplace.
- Nursing homes and rehab facilities must improve in so many ways. While I have promised my husband that I will NEVER put him in a nursing home, I am even more convinced that it’s a bad idea now that we have seen the virus numbers from these facilities. Perhaps we can look into group homes, with health and safety regulations, that would allow for smaller facilities that could better protect residents in this type of situation.
- People need to be provided with useful data and information so that they can make educated decisions. From a personal perspective, these charts showing the exponential growth in virus illness and fatalities since the beginning of March are not useful in any way. All they show, to me anyway, is that once we started measuring and tracking, our expectations of the magnitude of the crisis have been met. The number of cases and fatalities will grow forever if all we do is look at the total. We need to focus on eliminating the virus and we should be focusing on the trends rather than the totals.
- We all understand that this virus will be with us for a while. We need to get back to school, back to work, and find some way to return to having a bit of fun away from home. We cannot live in fear, but we can take precautions. Our leadership, be it state or federal, need to work together to provide the guidance we need, not just the guidance that serves their own interests. I live in Michigan, one of the harder hit states. Our governor exhibited more leadership in the early days of the crisis than we have seen to date at the federal level. But now, I think it’s time for her to step back and provide guidance going forward while she trusts us to do the right thing to protect ourselves and our families. And our President needs to become a responsible adult and stop providing misinformation, risky suggestions and other bad guidance.
We can, with clear vision, get past this. And we will. We can collectively learn from our experiences and put that education to use as we go forward as long as we are not blinded by bluster.
Our Question for You:
With hindsight being 20/20, what do you believe will be most critical as we go forward, post-pandemic?
From both of us, Lynn and Laurie, please stay healthy and safe, and keep changing the world for good, one day at a time.