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Five things I have learned after 2019

The common quote “you never miss your water until your well runs dry” summarizes the fact that many of us take our everyday privileges for granted.

The year 2020 was the highly anticipated start of a decade. However, on New Year’s Eve 2019, The World Health Organization first learned of a “viral pneumonia” in Wuhan, The People’s Republic of China.

That “pneumonia” later became known as COVID-19. Those of us who have survived the past several months have become all too familiar with life in a global pandemic. Seriously, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably worn a face mask within the past 12 hours. Leaving the question to be answered, what lessons have we learned during these turbulent times around the world, and why will life after the year 2019 never be the same again? Here are five things I learned after 2019.

5. Life is subject to change

Seemingly overnight, our entire ways of life were drastically altered. At the start of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed their doors resulting in the unemployment of millions of Americans. Bans were enforced on public gatherings, limitations were placed in hospitals, doctor offices, and clinics and international travel bans were instated around the globe; forcing billions to “shelter in place” until further notice. Most importantly, hundreds of thousands of families have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and many were barred from saying their final goodbyes in person or attending a proper funeral.

4. We are vulnerable

The coronavirus incited fear and hysteria around the globe as little was known of the effect of the virus. As months passed, studies showed that those suffering from pre-existing health conditions were more susceptible to contracting the virus. We also learned that elderly patients were at a higher risk of contraction and death as a result.

3. The importance of sanitation 

Sanitation awareness has never been more prominent in our society than it is now. Hand sanitizer is everywhere, sanitation regulations are being strictly enforced and Centers for Disease Control and the Prevention recommends that everyone practice frequent hand-washings and wear facial coverings while in public. Prior to the pandemic, people worldwide had largely lost the concept of proper sanitation.

2. We must love from a distance

If living in a pandemic has taught us anything it has certainly accentuated the practice of social distancing. Six feet regulations have been set in place everywhere, domestic and international travel has become significantly limited, and social events involving families and friends have been canceled in an effort to contain the spread. Visitation of the elderly has also been restricted leaving us to rely on social media and teleconferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet and Messenger Rooms. However, there has never been more closeness in being apart; as we all take these desolating measures for the safety of those we love.

1. What it means to be ‘essential’

The term “essential” has become quite common among our society. Government organizations struggled to define the word essential amid stipulations on non-essential travel, businesses and gatherings. Meanwhile, individuals began recognizing the importance of being “essential” in the workforce as millions lost their jobs due to COVID-19 closures.

We also learned to appreciate the common laborers, those in healthcare, agriculture, national security, law enforcement and other public sectors, because without them, our lives would never be the same.

Overall, the lesson that we should learn as families, communities, nations and a world, is that we all should care for, protect and value the entire human race.

Angel N. Skinner, Ph.D., is a workforce educational leadership assistant professor at Alcorn State University in Lorman.