It would be impossible for anyone in America to ignore the serious change our society has undergone due to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to CNN, in America alone more than 90,000 people have died due to the disease, multiple businesses have closed down and millions of jobs have been lost. While many are using this opportunity to lament and criticise the faults of our governments systems, which is an important thing to do, it is just as valuable to look at the way these systems have been so swiftly improved during this crisis.
It is important to recognise the inevitable future in which this pandemic will end and society attempts to revert back to the way it was because when this happens we must make sure to remember how this pandemic changed our world. We will become a better country by acknowledging the amount of good the government can do in moments of crisis like the return of running water in Detroit households that had the service shut off due to unpaid bills in an attempt to improve hygiene. We must never let go of systems or ideas that granted us aid in this trying time and we must fight to keep them even when things get better.
During this pandemic the government has been forced to address weaknesses in our country's infrastructure. Normally hospitals act on a policy of having just enough resources and people on staff at any given time, which resulted in them being quickly overpowered by the swift influx of infections. Also, our government struggles with feeding its citizens so much so that schools have had to continue dispensing food to compensate for people who would not be able to feed their children without public schools. When observing these adjustments, it is important to look into the reasons why these issues had not been addressed before this pandemic, and what will happen to these changes when the threat of the pandemic is reduced.
Here in Boston, we have seen all of our public schools close down and we have mostly switched over to virtual learning. To compensate for the fact that many students do not have easy access to the internet at home, Boston Public Schools distributed chromebooks that would provide this access. Similarly, many students relied on school for multiple meals a day, prompting the city to make all public schools free food dispensaries.
These actions are in every way a positive reaction to the forced lockdown. While this competence is certainly something to encourage, it is important to look into why certain policies like these were not in place before the lockdown. Why couldn’t there be a program that distributed leftover BPS breakfasts and lunches to impoverished families? Considering that virtual access was still an important part of their education, why were students without internet access not given the opportunity to acquire chromebooks before the lockdown? These are holes in the system that mainly affected people who were unable to advocate for themselves. City government workers with the ability to fix these problems have been uninformed and able to neglect the situation because of this lack of advocacy.
The concept of maintaining changes that were made during the lockdown could be taken to higher levels as well. Why not give people unable to pay water bills reduced bills instead of simply shutting off their water access? It would help improve hygiene in impoverished communities, which is important even without the fatal threat of a pandemic. In this time of trouble, we the American people should take notice of the systems put in place to make things more effective and fight for them to remain once this pandemic passes. This may require any amount of action from continuously reminding officials of these problems, to active protesting so that those with the power to maintain these changes feel obligated to do so.