Opinion | Tony Jones: Let’s hope we learned our COVID lessons | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Tony Jones: Let’s hope we learned our COVID lessons

Tony Jones
Everything in Moderation

Is it too soon to write a “what comes next” column on COVID-19? For all our sakes, I hope not. I hope this “once in a hundred years” pandemic is in our rearview mirror and fading. The latest statistics from Colorado would seem to support that point of view, so it could be that we’ve rounded the bend on this worldwide tragedy. Or it could be that we’re only in the calm of the eye of the hurricane, and there’s more — perhaps worse than what we’ve experienced so far — yet to come.

But let me wax optimistic for a moment, and let’s assume that the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, and we can now consider what comes next and what we’ve learned about protecting our communities from another such scourge. Let’s also consider what we have learned about ourselves as a society.

First, props to former President Donald Trump on the vaccine programs. Perhaps any leader would have realized the potential in pumping billions into vaccine research and eliminating red tape to deploy a vaccine in record time. But it did happen on Trump’s watch, and he did support it, so we have to give him that. In doing so, his administration likely saved countless lives. But let’s be real, this was probably one of the few times in his presidency when he actually listened to the advice of others. I just wish he’d saved us the embarrassment of his laughable appearances at the COVID-19 task force press conferences.

Let’s hope we’ve relearned the urgent need to fund epidemiological research so that we can be vigilant for the emergence of the next nasty little bug capable of toppling civilization. Countries, states and counties like Summit should take stock of what we did to contain the virus and build response plans based on that analysis, ensuring that we don’t make the same mistakes.

That means digging deep into the data and figuring out what really did work. How effective were masks and social distancing, for instance? The data is there, and with the luxury of time — something that multiple rounds of COVID-19 variants didn’t really give us — we should be able to build response playbooks around those analyses. And let’s keep those playbooks fresh by reviewing and updating them periodically, and not allowing them to gather dust on shelves to our future detriment.

As a society, we found that we need one another’s company far more than we perhaps thought we did pre-pandemic. This is especially true for our kids and those who are vulnerable to the depression that a sense of isolation from others can cause. We’ve also learned how much we depend on those who do the jobs that we’d previously taken for granted. And those folks have come to realize the importance of their roles in keeping society afloat. Will that newfound awareness translate to permanent gains in income and standing in society, or will we revert to our previous ways and biases?

We’ve learned that many of the jobs that propel our economy can be performed away from the office. Will those work-from-home employees return to the office, grateful to leave behind their work-from-home exile? I’m sure there will be many who will.

I’m equally sure that there are some who have found their zen working from home and wish to never return to an office environment again. Many in this latter cohort are new residents of Summit County, and they have decisions to make. Should they join the millions who have already left jobs for greener pastures, be those pastures self-employment or jobs that are more conducive to their newfound lifestyles? Those who employ such individuals would be well advised to understand this dynamic at work in their staff and adjust their in-office versus at-home requirements the best they can.

Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned is the need for solidarity in our society. We’ll never all be on the same page ideologically, and that’s OK, but we need to learn to agree to disagree without rancor. If we can at least pull in the same direction and act on the lessons learned from the past, perhaps the next crisis will be less traumatic to us as individuals and as a society.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.