There are a lot of lessons in this pandemic – will we learn them?

COVID-19 has taken over all of our lives. It has separated us from family and friends, closed schools, playgrounds, and churches; it’s taken from us all that we take for granted. Simple things like going for walks seem risky, and many of our cities look like ghost towns. It’s  so quiet you can hear the traffic lights change.
Food pantries are overwhelmed as people who are unemployed struggle to put food on the table, many experiencing for the first time how we who live in poverty every single day feel. Homelessness, which is hidden at times by big crowds bustling about, isn’t now as people sleep in train stations, sometimes on the empty subway trains that travel through the cities. There have been 200* cases of COVID-19 among the homeless so far and we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg  as many have not been tested.
I could rake those who work with the homeless over the coals on this but I cannot. No one was ready for this, yes with a level four bio-lab you’d think they would be prepared for something like this, but I’m not going to rant about that, not today. Boston Healthcare for the Homeless is leading the charge on this. They’re doing the best they can, but like many of our healthcare facilities along with our nurses and doctors, this pandemic can be overwhelming to say the least, so I’m not going to bash them; I salute them.
There are some positive things that are happening while we’re dealing with all this sickness and death. Probably the most positive is the fact that this country now realizes that those essential workers who are keeping us running have always been doing that, every freakin’ day. I hope that this will lead to those folks getting a decent wage and affordable, comprehensive healthcare. Yes, the ruling class will try and stop it. They’ll  think that if they give us enough stimulus cash we’ll just go away. I don’t think so. Also, we’re seeing Governors from both parties showing leadership and starting to work together which is more than I can say about you know who in the White House, who seems more interested in getting Wall Street back up and running, along with his television ratings, than people’s lives.
Is there more that can be done? Sure. Our health care workers on the frontlines need more personal protective equipment. Those folks that work in grocery stores and sanitation workers need protection, as do bus and subway workers. Some states and cities are opening up hotel rooms to temporarily house the homeless. Massachusetts, especially Boston should do the same. It’s safe to say that there is always more to be done. Will we learn from this when it’s over? I hope so. America still sees itself as invincible. The whole “It can’t happen here” attitude is what left us so shell shocked after Sept 11. We’ve had viruses since then, but nothing like this. Will we be ready when the next attack may it be physical or viral? I hope so. Everyone Stay Safe.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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