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Ray Bates: The status quo is dead

Ray Bates on Covid-19 lessons learned
Photo by Nick Bolton on Unsplash

SEDABOOKTOOK (Guysborough) – May you live in interesting times could be received as a fond wish or be what it is claimed to be: a translation of a traditional curse. Be what it may, that expression is applicable to our times. This COVID-19 battle that we are enduring will be recorded as another of the never-ending challenges faced by humans.

For the many who hope that their lives will soon return to normal as experienced prior to our COVID-19 period, forget it; that existing state of affairs, a.k.a. the status quo, is dead. Our new normals have arrived and will remain until they too evolve into the next new normal.

One of my former “normals” was that I did not get the yearly flu vaccine — until this past November. I do not like to take medications, preferring to deal with medical occurrences as naturally as I am able while having a lifestyle that, hopefully, will assist me to stay as healthy as possible. In my new normal, when the time arrives for me to get into the queue to have my COVID-19 vaccine, I will be there without hesitation. Not only do I want to protect myself, but also those with whom I interact. 

It’s been said, Never let a good crisis go to waste.  The current challenges of this global COVID-19 crisis require us to make changes to our worldwide interdependencies, personal lifestyles, essential services, and individual expectations, so as to confront and to defeat it. There are also the economic inequalities that are impacting the lives of countless families and individuals. 

Given these societal inadequacies and inequalities so glaringly revealed due to our current pandemic I am confident books will be written about the lessons learned and adaptations necessitated from COVID-19. Let me express my thoughts on several of its noteworthy variables.

The first is the importance of an adequate health care system for all. The existing inadequacies and inequalities that have been jarringly exposed because of COVID-19 must be corrected and replaced with services that will enable us to defeat this pandemic and also to be ready for the next one when it rears its deadly head.

There is also the frightening truth that these viral killers mutate into new strains as exemplified by the COVID variants that have recently been detected within Canada and other nations. With millions of cases worldwide, only a naïve person would believe the COVID-19 strain now killing humans by the thousands every day will not continue to mutate.

Not to lessen their individual importance but for brevity I shall reference our health care, educational and penal institutions as a combined entry. So as to be able to adequately combat the next viral attack their designs and operational procedures will need to change. When humans are placed together for whatever the reason, safeguards must be in place to ensure all included individuals are at the lowest possible level of risk.

Such a need for structural redesigns is also necessary for our commercial involvements, be they our work places, shopping opportunities, food supplies, entertainment venues, restaurants choices, and the list could go on. In fact, there is not a single instance wherein I can consider it to be exempt from a re-examination to ensure its safe delivery — for both the providers and recipients.

Lastly, there are groups within our diverse society that need our added assistance, groups such as people with low incomes, the aged, the homeless, residents of northern communities, and persons labelled with developmental disabilities. Many of them are especially vulnerable to viral attacks.

If you long to go back to whatever was your pre-COVID-19 normal, I am sorry to disappoint you but those times are gone and our new normals have arrived. Our collective challenge is to strive to move forward to defeat this viral enemy while preparing for the next one that is certain to eventually arrive. 

Please work to stay well as we advance into our new normals and a challenging new year; this crisis too shall pass.  

Ray Bates, Guysborough (Sedabooktook: harbour running far back), a former school principal and Nova Scotia Community College Truro Campus faculty member (Ret’d), has been contributing his opinions to newspapers since 1998. raybates@eastlink.ca

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