Our First Crisis
Last updated 4/1/2020 at 4:32pm
This is the first major, nationwide crisis for the majority of Americans.
Certainly there have been events since 1960 that have had a tremendous impact on this nation – the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the seemingly endless wars in the Middle East, the Great Recession and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
For the individuals who were directly involved in those events, there is probably nothing that altered their lives more than those events. The impact of those events on individual Americans and communities, as well as their role in our history, should never be diminished.
However, those events did not have a direct impact on all Americans in nearly every aspect of our daily lives. The current COVID-19 crisis has.
Cases have been found in all 50 states. It has prompted the closing of most of educational systems, from K-12 through college. It has affected our economy with the closing of all non-essential businesses in many states, resulting in more than 3 million Americans filing for unemployment and a volatile stock market that has declined dramatically in the last month. There are no organized sports, from children’s T-ball to all professional sports, for us to either participate in or watch. Theatres of all types and concert venues have been closed. Due to prohibitions against large gatherings, restaurants, bars, churches, parks and other places where we have gathered to enjoy and support each other are closed.
So, how are we handling this crisis?
Overall, fairly well. Yes, the federal government has been slow to respond in gathering and distributing necessary medical supplies and there seems to be no coherent national strategy for dealing with this pandemic. There also have been numerous cases of people hoarding products that others truly need. As always, there are the unconcerned and selfish whose actions put others in danger, not to mention the scoundrels who profit off others’ misery and fears.
But for every regrettable deed or misstep, there have been hundreds of innovative actions and good deeds.
Congress passed several acts to provide economic relief to the unemployed, businesses and the general public. Several governors, both Democrats and Republicans, have taken swift actions to protect their residents from medical and economic peril.
Technology, as columnist John Hood notes on the following page, has provided a number of solutions, from distance learning and telemedicine to maintaining social connections and allowing many people to work from home. The efficacy of these measures, particularly distance learning, will diminish over time, but for now they provide an adequate solution.
Everyone, however, cannot work from home. Most companies have implemented some measures to keep their employees a safe distance from customers. Grocery stores have been installing plastic shields to protect check-out clerks and customers from each other.
Then, there are businesses that have made donations to their communities or transitioned their manufacturing to help with medical supplies. For instance, the Rathbone family has provided free plates of barbecue to the community. On Page 9A in today’s paper, there is a story about NASCAR employees using 3-D printers to make plastic shields for health care employees. These things are occurring across the nation.
Individuals or small groups are also doing things that may seem minor, but can have a profound impact. Senior citizens at College Walk setting aside time for a community sing-along helps people feel better, less isolated. Several churches are planning to ring their church bells simultaneously on Easter morning. That will be an uplifting sound for many to hear.
Finally, no words can adequately describe the courage, compassion and selflessness being displayed by the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who are spending untold hours away from their families and putting their own lives in danger, sometimes without the proper protective equipment, to save as many lives as they can.
Thus far, we have handled this crisis by being supportive, creative and compassionate. However, it does not appear as if there will be any medical solution to COVID-19 anytime soon. This is not going to be a short-term crisis. If we can stay together, if we can remain supportive, creative and compassionate throughout the duration of this crisis, in future years we may be able to look back on this event as one of our finer hours.