Cydney Baron

"When can we go back to normal?"

It's the question everyone is asking. We all want to go back out in public without fear or trepidation. We all want to see our economy shake off the scourge that is COVID-19. We want to get back to work, back to shopping and eating at our favorite restaurants. People want to go back to worshiping, living and working like the used to.

They want to go back to normal.

But given all that's happened, maybe we should demand better than returning to what was.

This pandemic taught us that the healthcare system in our country may need to be re-evaluated. Health insurance is tied to employment, which is fickle in the time of a crisis. It took a pandemic to teach us that the lines of communication between federal and state agency leaders are broken. We heard of problems with the unemployment claim process and problems with payroll protection for small business.

COVID-19 illuminated those processes that need to be re-vamped, so let's not go back to normal. Let's do better.

Our neighbors without paid sick leave struggled, our neighbors who live from paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford childcare struggled and our neighbors living with food insecurity struggled.

For these people, "back to normal" means being one catastrophe away from financial ruin.

For these people, let's embrace a new normal..

Employers learned the importance of taking care of their employees' mental and physical health like never before. They found new, creative ways to do business. They found the parts of their business model that are adaptable, and those that aren't. Some businesses embraced creative problem solving. They fought. Others floundered, unable to find ways to adapt. Let's embrace these lessons and take them with us to a new normal.

This pandemic has shown us what we're doing well, what we're capable of when pushed, and what we need work on. None of us chose to endure a pandemic but we can attempt to find room for growth in the aftermath.

We can choose to embrace these lessons and demand that collectively we do better than "back to normal."

Cydney Baron is the editor of the Claremore Daily Progress.

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