From his denial to acceptance, on Sunday, May 3, President Donald J. Trump tweeted: “And then came a Plague, a great and powerful Plague, and the World was never to be the same again!”
So far, more than 80,000 Americans have lost their lives to and more than 1.4 million are infected by the COVID-19 virus. And as these numbers continue to rise, the United States is confronted with one of its most challenging and debilitating health, economic and political issues in its history.
Likewise, as the global toll (as of this writing) stands at more than 280,000 dead and more than 4 million infected and continues to rise, the world is confronted with unprecedented health, economic and political challenges that will ultimately transform every segment of organized human life.
Amid the uncertainties caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the new communication technologies, social media and internet have proven to be our biggest coronavirus lockdown saviors.
Imagine, while confined to our homes, how we could have maintained a semblance of connectivity and communication with our families, friends and colleagues without our smartphones and social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Telegram, WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype?
Without the digital devices and social media, how could the home-confined people share their views, frustrations, ideas, creative work, cooking/baking lessons, odd gyrations, jokes, personal photos, funny videos, live chats and music with the world? How could teachers teleteach, physicians telemed, workers telework, businesses teleconference and shoppers teleshop? How could they teleorder food or essentials such as groceries and medications online?
Throughout history, several major plagues have claimed millions of lives and transformed societies, but none has been as widespread and disruptive as the COVID-19 global pandemic. In 1347, the Black Death wiped out towns and killed thousands for nearly a decade. The Italian Plague, the Great Plague of London, the Great Plague of Marseille and the Third Plague killed millions of people around the world. However, their spread was much slower and more geographically confined than the current pandemic because of the lack of modern global transportation and limited transborder migration of people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has defied centuries of technological, medical and human progress. Nonetheless, unlike the earlier pandemics, the current one has clearly illustrated that, regardless of our race, religion, nationality, gender and political ideology, we are more than ever before globally interconnected and consequently more rapidly and widely impacted by contagious viruses.
The COVID-19 pandemic also has unveiled our vulnerabilities, turned our world upside-down by drastically shattering economies, human interactions, livelihoods, chain stores, restaurants, educational institutions and governmental institutions, and has forced us to adapt to a “new normal” way of life.
The prepandemic “normal” has proven to be counterproductive and disastrous to our lives and environment. Let us learn the lessons of COVID-19, modify our actions, behavior and attitudes, and chart a better future for ourselves and the next generations. We can and should rise to do better than before.
One thing is certain: Tomorrow will be much different from today.