Health journalist Lara Salahi studied the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa extensively and noted, “Viruses do not recognize national borders, nor do they recognize political, social, ethnic, or religious differences.”
There’s a sense that life will never be the same and to a large extent, it won’t be for a long time. COVID19 will be a buzzword like 911, Ebola, WWII, etc. Someone will say it ten years from now and we will all remember. We will remember people, family, and friends we lost. We will remember masks, hand sanitizer, and certainly toilet paper, which is still very odd. We will remember the countless front line workers in healthcare, retail, law enforcement, public safety, their sacrifices, and especially those who lost their lives trying to fight for us.
There is a legitimate fear of returning to public places and spaces. When we start gathering again will the numbers spike and we start all over again? How are we going to test everyone? What if the tests are not accurate? When will a vaccine be available and will it be like the flu vaccine where you can still get the flu? What, not “if” will the next virus be, and will we be better prepared?
Salahi is making similar observations about global preparedness with Covid19 as she found studying Ebola. “When we look back at this pandemic, we will no doubt find that, just with Ebola, having invested in preparedness would have been far less costly in time, money and lives than our response…..Far more people around the world have died from infectious disease than in warm, yet more is invested in military response than in outbreak preparedness.”
It’s clear that pandemics are a cruel enemy devouring lives, destroying economies, taxing governments, industry, health, and public safety, impacting mental health— increasing anxiety, fear, loneliness, depression, PTSD, and suicide. Social dynamics are completely turned upside down as the culture of what was known gives way to the unknown. There’s a surreal sense about it all, permeating all aspects of any culture impacted by the virus.
We can’t ignore the huge wake the virus leaves behind, but we can navigate these waters better than before. We can be proactive in preparing, planning, and allocating resources. We can be better stewards of what we have and manage them better for the future. We can adapt, innovate, engage, and seek solutions more than casting blame. We can think of others instead of ourselves. We can help in the smallest of ways to be a positive voice for change demonstrated in action.
Where we will land and go from here is largely up to us, but for the sake of the marginalized, elderly, and especially the children we’ve got to make good choices and decisions going forward. Doing nothing is not an option. This isn’t a political matter though politics are involved, it’s a global matter for all humanity.
Think about the possibilities of bringing together the best minds, research, technology, funding, and global resources working in concert to combat this and any future pandemic. It has to be a public-private sector effort focused solely on solutions. The possibilities are endless with a unified global approach. It could be a shining moment for all humanity, or will we fail the test? Succeeding generations are depending on us and we can’t let them down.
Monty Carter, Storyteller