Whatever this is, it’s been going on for more than a year now. Whether you mark the beginning from March 11—when the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, then-President Trump announced a travel ban on the European Union, the NBA stopped play, and Tom Hanks announced he had COVID—or a more personal date like your last day in the office or taking your kids to school, 12 months have come and gone.
In that time, we’ve seen more than half a million Americans die directly because of COVID-19. So many have died that collective life expectancy in the US dropped a full year. That doesn’t mean that those of us who survived will live a year less. But in meaningful ways, we’ve still all lost a year.
Not that a lot of events didn’t take place. We’ve seen tens of millions of people march in support of racial justice. We’ve seen government change hands, and not peacefully. We’ve seen every vulnerability in our society exposed. What we haven’t seen nearly enough of are our friends and loved ones. We’ve also seen that when we really need to, we can develop effective vaccines against a brand-new virus at mind-boggling speed. Even with that extraordinary shot of hope, we’ve seen how challenging it can be to go from creating effective vaccines to getting them to people.
What have we learned? Well, a lot about epidemiology. Though with that has come as much misinformation as good information. We still aren’t great, by and large, at discerning reliable sources of information from quackery. We’ve learned that while many professions can be productive while working remotely, living life online makes us all a little less human. On the flip side, we’ve been reminded just how much we depend on people being physically present to provide services we rely on even as we automate more and more.
‘Survival is the name of the game’
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