New life and new challenges post- pandemic

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 2/25/21

What comes next?” I got my first vaccine against COVID last Sunday, and, with my second dose scheduled for mid-March, personally, I am ready finally to look at life post-pandemic. I know there are …

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New life and new challenges post- pandemic

Posted

What comes next?”

I got my first vaccine against COVID last Sunday, and, with my second dose scheduled for mid-March, personally, I am ready finally to look at life post-pandemic. I know there are still steps to be taken, and cautions to be observed, but with my inoculation, my 85-year old mother’s inoculation, my 70-something in-laws inoculations, the immediate danger to me and my high-risk loved ones is finally waning.

The same is true of the country as a whole. No, we’re not at herd immunity just yet; no, the media-medical complex isn’t ready to let go of their narrative to remain vigilant (translation: stay scared); and, no, there’s still plenty to think about in terms of variants. But, on Feb. 13, according to WorldMeters, the U.S. recorded fewer than 100,000 new cases of COVID for the first time since Nov. 4. Colorado is down from an average of around 4,000 per day in November to fewer than 1,000 new cases per day for the 7-day period ending on Feb. 21.

So, it seems like there is now light at the end of the tunnel. And again, I ask, “what comes next?”

Have you thought about that question? I know the zeitgeist has moved far past those hopeful days last summer when we were all thinking about the lessons of the pandemic —what really mattered, what didn’t, and how valuable the simple things really are. But have we forgotten all those lessons?

Are we really going to revel in neighborhood barbecues and spending time with friends and family? Or have the political divisions driven us even deeper into our tribes, such that we don’t even want to reach out to neighbors, for fear that we may discover that (shocking) they don’t share our worldview?

And what of our communities? Steve Sailer (umz.com, in a post that has pointed political slant) has charted some astonishing numbers: the murder rate in the 3rd quarter of 2020 (the last quarter data was fully available) jumped by *30%* over the 5-year average. The two previous largest one-year jumps in the murder rate (1968, 2015) saw jumps of 12.7% and 12.1%, respectively. And that doesn’t take into account the looming mental health/suicide rate, the numbers on which we likely won’t have for years.

Do we remember the people who have been heaping new work and new routines upon themselves to keep some semblance of normal alive for us? Or are we going to, once again, be rude to waiters and bus drivers for minor inconveniences in our life?

And what about our workplaces? We’ve discovered that we can keep many of our businesses working from home. Does that translate into more efficient use of workers’ time? Americans are famous for spending more hours on the job than our counterparts in the world: have we learned that we can get the same productivity with fewer meetings around the water cooler and in the board room? And what does that mean for the physical structures of our businesses? Do we really need all the new commercial real estate being built, or does the structure of our commerce now look less centralized? And, what does that mean for the people who keep those physical structures functional? If you don’t need an office, do you need a cleaning crew and a maintenance team?

The schools are, right now, coming to grips with how things might be different on the other side. Overall enrollment in public schools in Colorado is down by 30,000 students as of December, the first decrease in enrollment in 30 years. Will those kids come back next fall?

In every challenge is an opportunity, a moment where the leaders of vision and foresight seize the tide of human affairs and create something new and amazing.

Are you that leader? Do you know somebody who is? Because thinking about this stuff in six months is not soon enough.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

Michael Alcorn

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