Difficult though it may be to see some benefit from the COVID-19 virus that has had much of Texas and the world locked down for weeks, there may be several things we learn.
In fact, had this crisis happened a few months earlier, it might have altered the 2020 presidential race – especially the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination -- even more than it has.
Here are some of the adjustments we have made, including stay-at-home orders, online schools, food accessibility, medical treatment, income sustenance and several others:
The digital divide-We are suddenly underlining the fact of unequal access to computers, the internet and broadband internet as a huge hurdle when it comes to communicating with each other. That includes especially closing schools and expecting students to learn from home when a considerable number of Texas households don't have easy access to computers or the internet – particularly in rural areas.
Some cable companies and schools are literally wiring around the situation by hurry-up extension of service to households without it, or by creating internet hotspots around communities where students and others can get online.
Despite the emergency conditions that have posed the challenge of making internet access much better, a silver lining may be the rapid development and deployment of computer literacy and skills. A significant number of people who thought "Zoom" was what a hot-rodder does when a traffic light turns green are learning it's also a name for a software program allowing several people to have online visual conference calls among groups of people from their homes or offices or wherever.
Income sustenance-The huge federal spending trying to allow people to continue their lives and the huge number suddenly applying for unemployment compensation are some indicators that former presidential candidate Andrew Yang may be onto something with his proposal for the government to give every adult American $1,000 a month.
Medicare for all-Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, proposing the U.S. join other first-world nations in having universal health care, might have gotten more traction. And may yet.
Medicaid expansion-The health-care situation in Texas during the virus explosion has reinforced the notion that Gov. Greg Abbott continuing to turn thumbs down on Texas accepting expanded Medicaid coverage would not qualify as a smart business decision. The acceptance would provide medical insurance for about 1.4 million more Texans, and about $10 billion a year at mostly federal expense. That's particularly the case when Texas taxpayers are sending their tax money anyway to the federal government to provide healthcare to the 36 states and the District of Columbia that have accepted Medicaid expansion.
Obamacare opposition-At the same time, Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton continues legal efforts to shut down the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, which includes preventing insurance companies from dropping patients for coverage for treatments because of pre-existing health conditions. Is this a good idea?
A green revolution-Perhaps the significantly cleaner world environment with less burning of fossil fuel is showing us something.
World peace-A noble goal, but what if nations around the globe used the challenge of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic as a means to explore new opportunities for cooperation among nations? This is already going on to some degree with the rapid expansion of the number of hospital ventilators for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and greatly increasing the supply of tests while increasing their accuracy and speed. (Our spirit of cooperation might be improved if President Donald Trump would quit scapegoating the World Health Organization by calling for halting U.S. financial support for this international group during a worldwide pandemic.)
Appreciation of others-While this is certainly good to do even without a pandemic, it perhaps reinforced its benefit by putting a spotlight on people performing services we used to take for granted. Those include not just the obvious ones, like doctors and nurses and other medical personnel, or police officers and firefighters, but also truck drivers, grocery stockers, delivery people, folks who pick up your trash, postal employees, and many others.
Please take every opportunity to let those folks know how much we appreciate them and what they do. There are a lot of them. And they certainly prove, every day, that we are all in this together.
Now wear your face masks in public, stay six feet apart, and wash your hands.