The Corona Virus Has Legions More News to Come. But Not All of It is Bad.
In the Age of the Corona Virus
By now, we are all feeling saturated with talk of the Corona virus. It seems to permeate everything, and we are just beginning to deal with this. We have some long days ahead. As with any major effect like this, there are side effects and spinoffs. Some of them are actually good things.
None of this outweighs the pain and misery of a pandemic. The slow start and remarkable missteps of the Trump administration are going to harvest a bitter fruit. Finally, the federal efforts are at least starting, and state/local governments are doing heroic work to fill the voids. But there are some hopeful seeds being planted. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
I was in a supermarket the other day. It was unusually crowded, and some items were sold out. I anticipated a lot of tension and bad tempers. Instead, I experienced a market full of people going out of their way to be civil to each other. Small conversations were everywhere about how we are all in this together. People were more concerned about employees and small businesses than they were about themselves. It was downright inspiring.
I have heard others talk of similar experiences. I remember New York was like that right after 9/11. A friend mentioned San Francisco had the same atmosphere after a major earthquake. Sometimes out of disaster, we find more community than we thought was in us. Nice if we decide to keep some of that going. In recent years, this country has been deeply divided along many lines. A little sense of shared citizenship would be welcome.
I have had the opportunity to work with some of the better virtual meeting and webinar software now available. All of it is still not where it should be, but it’s pretty darn close. Easier to use than the old stuff, tons of capabilities, much more reliable. I have been frustrated at how slowly this kind of tool has seeped into schools and home use. The potential is so vast in so many ways.
Now all of a sudden, we need to stay away from each other physically but still need to connect. People and organizations are now eager to tap into technology. Churches that a month ago could not record a service are taking a shot at livestreaming or videotaping their programs.
Community groups that cannot assemble in the same room are picking up Zoom or Skype, or other solutions. All this could finally get us moving into the modern age of communications on more levels. Our infrastructure is woefully inadequate to what we need to do this, but that is fixable. And along the way, a lot of companies, large and small, will grow mightily.
The country is becoming painfully aware of what it means when millions of people could be sick, yet still come to work because they cannot afford to stay at home. A side effect is that they infect the rest of us. In addition, we are looking at hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost.
Finding a way to support those small businesses would not be cheap, but it would be cheaper than trying to create new jobs in the aftermath. Same with underwriting industries in trouble (transportation, dining, others). These are investments, done properly (see Elizabeth Warren’s suggestions today on how to do this. Its a pretty good approach, overall). We are also seeing in the starkest terms how many gaps and shortfalls we have in our medical structure.
What Next, America?
These gaps in social economics and infrastructure capacity affect us all, profoundly and long term. We may come out of this crisis ready to finally ready to think of ourselves as one country, ready to pass laws that help make us the America we should be.
We might even elect a government and a Congress ready and able to do that.
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