At the time of this writing, the coronavirus is still wrecking havoc on U.S. soil and the country appears to have resigned itself to waiting for a messianic vaccine.
There has been significant progress recently in terms of inoculation development — although when it comes to pharmaceuticals, standard procedure demands certain testing phases be respected and thorough research be conducted before widespread release.
That said, the general mood is that we’re done with coronavirus. We seem to be collectively “over” it despite the virus clearly not being over with us.
Cases have rebounded in dozens of states after a protracted period of decline. The United States has lost nearly 158,000 people to the virus.
Many, however, appear to have reluctantly accepted the worst possible solution; simply let the virus run its course. That attitude isn’t entirely surprising given the mixed leadership we’ve seen.
Health officials are being threatened, demonized, and ignored. There has been little federal guidance beyond continued testing, conflicting internal reports, and chest-thumping declarations of ‘success’. Governors look sheepish on rolling back reopening, and have opted for wagging fingers, toothless threats, and leaving respective counties to decide individually.
These lapses are further compounded as schools reopen, businesses lobby for full operation, and millions remain unemployed.
With the uncertain present still drifting into the twilight zone, there is the frightening, if optimistic, proposition of what life looks like after the pandemic.
If we’re handling the situation this poorly, how do we rebuild from this unparalleled catastrophe? And how do we makes sure this doesn’t happen again?
What would a post-pandemic world even look like? Surely we can’t just DeLorean ourselves back to February 2020.
I say we cast our gaze at Eastern Asia — where countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea have implemented sterling levels of response toward this global health crisis.
They have been the north star in terms of handling this novel virus because this situation isn’t entirely novel to them, e.g., H1N1, SARS, MERS.
These countries invested heavily early on with aggressive testing, tracing, and stimulus. Not only did they invest seriously, they took the situation seriously from the get-go and moved swiftly to contain Covid-19.
All without partisan spin and public push-back.
One significant qualifier that allowed these countries to act quickly and cohesively during a pandemic is the difference in terms of social mindset.
Many Asian countries are community oriented whereas the United States is fairly rooted in an individualistic ethos. That difference allows those countries to have a fairly streamlined approach to governance, especially when full cooperation is necessitated.
Managing a pandemic requires unity — which is often difficult when a country is splintered and every word is under scrutiny.
With that significant asterisk noted, there are still other principles that the U.S. can still incorporate.
What those Eastern Asian countries have — and what the world should be taking stock of — is the outpour of resources used for infrastructure.
That level of foresight and discipline can be hard for countries that prefer to maximize momentary gains in exchange for stable tomorrows. *cough* *cough* *Uncle Sam* *no it’s okay, I’m wearing a mask*
Federal spending for preparation and safeguards will be essential moving forward. Doing so allows the country to better handle unforeseen dilemmas.
Financially, the United States has taken an apprehensive approach in pumping stimulus to keep unemployed Americans afloat. Such restraint has not bode well for the millions still reeling.
Although we are crossing uncharted waters, it is telling that lawmakers are conflicted with making exception in providing additional relief for households and small businesses.
If the government wants to see a steady economic rebound, it will need to implement more robust funding. People are treading along the unknown and the least they could use is a longer lifeline.
Coronavirus has revealed itself as an old testament god: exposing corruption, uncovering systematic frailty, and decimating non believers while simultaneously testing the mettle, patience, and willpower of those remaining.
The countless issues that were humming in the background have been unearthed, uprooted, and require immediate examination: affordable housing, economic disparity, public transportation, education, business regulation, workers’ rights, and perhaps the most pressing, health care.
The United States has embarrassed itself globally during this pandemic, continuing to fumble around unprepared, divided, and completely overwhelmed.
What lies ahead, even just tomorrow, is a golden opportunity to amend our shortcomings, invest for the future, and realize that for the present — this virus is our new normal.