Dispatch from Planet Coronavirus

I was asked a few questions about the current health crisis by a local podcaster. I have no more answers than anyone else, but wanted to at least memorialize my responses. 

How have you been affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic?

It’s been hard to know, day to day, what our family will be called on to do next in order to flatten the curve, protect our most vulnerable community members, help those in need of basic necessities, plan for the future, and eventually move on with our lives.

It’s been frustrating and stressful, to be honest, but we’re all trying our best.

Is there any positive message you would give to others?

In every crisis, there are people who step forward to offer help and kindness. If you look, you will find them. If you can, you should join them. This crisis will end, and the world will return to some version of normal.

What have you learned, gained, or lost during this time?

Everyone in our household has had to pick up new skills and technologies for working, educating, and learning from home. We’re certainly spending more time as a family, and connecting virtually with friends and relatives across the country! Through social distancing, we’re relearning the importance of socializing in general.

At the same time, there have been sacrifices we’ve been called on to make, but at least we’re all in this together.

How do you envision the world after this is over?

My hope is that we come out of this with a better understanding that science should guide public policy. That our healthcare system needs to be accessible to everybody, because each individual’s health can affect and be affected by the entire community. That our national employment policies and social safety nets need to better anticipate and respond to sudden shocks to the economy. That we need better and faster coordination between Federal, state, and local governments and a more efficient and equitable sharing of resources. That we need to put partisan squabbles aside to craft some permanent solutions to all the systemic flaws and weaknesses exposed by this situation.

I believe that countries with strong leadership will end this crisis in a stronger position than they were in before. I hope our country can be one of them.

What is the first thing you will do once the coronavirus is all gone?

The health crisis won’t be over until an effective vaccine has been developed, tested, manufactured, distributed, and implemented. The economic crisis may take even longer to fully resolve. 

I don’t expect a single day when we can declare that no one will ever get this virus again and that everyone who was harmed has been made whole.  It’ll be more like a gradual return of hope and optimism, until a majority of people will be able to say that things got bad and then got better again. 

What I’m looking forward to right now is the day when paper towels, eggs, and toilet paper reliably return to the supermarket shelves. That will certainly feel like a victory.