VOICES: What we have learned from the pandemic so far

Jim Brooks

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Jim Brooks

As my good friend and local tennis legend Bob Helmers often says, “Either you win or you learn something.” It would be difficult to say that we, the human race, have won against the most relentless airborn pathogen in over a century — COVID 19 — but I hope we are improving our chances of ultimate victory. In the U.S. alone, we have had over 54 million cases (15.4% of our population) and over 820,000 deaths. And each death has deeply touched family members, friends, co-workers and health-care providers (the greatest heroes of the last two years).

Ohio statistics mirror those of the whole nation. Nearly two million cases (16% of the population) have resulted in 28,800 deaths. Montgomery County shows parallel numbers — 88,000 cases (15.6% of population) and 1488 deaths. Only 57% of those eligible have started vaccinations. Some surrounding counties are worse, some better. Here are a few lessons to consider:

  1. Following reasonable rules will benefit us all. Vaccinations and boosters, mask wearing in indoor and crowded outdoor public places, quarantining when testing positive — do work and can greatly reduce the number and severity of cases and the spread of the virus.
  2. Listen to the experts who are trying to save us. They can educate us about the past, the present, and how we might succeed in the future. The CDC has done its best to educate us and set policy. We would all do well to pay careful attention as variants emerge and surge.
  3. Keep politics out of the realm of health and medicine. At the same time, every elected official and government-appointed individual should have a mindset of being part of the solution for the benefit of all. Far too many have tried to shut down helpful mandates, to the detriment of all. I admired the early work of our governor Mike DeWine, but in 2021 members of his party handcuffed his efforts to beat the virus. Shame on them.
  4. Learn from our mistakes. Clearly, the Chinese mishandled this virus that developed in Wuhan. The PBS program Frontline documented the happenings extremely well in China’s COVID Secrets, which aired in February 2021. You can view this online. The mishandling of the virus in our own country and vaccination refusals are well documented. Heaven forbid that we would go through anything like this again, but we can do better.
  5. Remain flexible and adapt to changing conditions. Virtually every profession and workplace has been affected by the virus. Way too many have lost their jobs, some permanently. But there are great success stories of people who have successfully remade themselves professionally. My brother-in-law is a good example. His travel incentive business was devastated by sensible lockdown restrictions, so he used his people and logistic skills to help with the 2020 elections. He then got involved with contact tracing. After that, he directed traveling nurses and other health care workers to the hardest hit areas in Texas to battle the pandemic.
  6. Develop good health and wellness practices. Those who do have a greater chance of surviving their infections and bouncing back more quickly to good health.
  7. It’s never over until it’s over. These words attributed to Yogi Berra have never been more true. Let’s fight the good fight, keep a positive attitude and learn from our mistakes. It’s the only reasonable thing to do for the common good.

Jim Brooks is a retired high school English teacher who writes, coaches tennis, and tutors immigrants.

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