As we leave behind 2020, let’s reflect on what we’ve learned from the worst year of the century—so far. The pandemic has forced us to change how we live and while we would love to leave that all behind us, here is what the Oak Leaf Editorial Board wants to take from 2020 into 2021.
What we’re bringing to 2021:
– Fire safety: Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties were hit with two massive back-to-back fires this season, the LNU Complex fire and the Shady/Glass fire.
The LNU Complex Fire is the fifth largest fire in California history and firefighters were stretched so thin that fire chiefs called in retired members. Governor Gavin Newsom reached out to other governors and even other countries for assistance as well.
The Shady/Glass Fire came soon after and spread so intensely that many students started their first quarter of the semester overwrought with crisis fatigue and distress.
While the cause of these fires can be correlated to climate change, they should serve as a warning that we need better forest management and public policy to assist in fire suppression next fire season.
– Changing our behavior: The individuals who openly ignore COVID-19 health guidelines put others in jeopardy to soothe their own egos, unlike others who have come together and worked to keep each other safe. We all need to work collectively to get through the COVID-19 pandemic as it will come with us into 2021.
– Mask wearing: Science has shown that even simple cloth masks protect the wearer and those around them from particles of viruses. This is not the first time Americans have used masks to combat disease and it surely will not be the last, so let’s embrace selflessness in 2021.
– Telehealth: At first, telehealth started out as a way to minimize patient-caretaker interaction and patients crowding hospitals, but healthcare providers are realizing that telehealth has benefits that exceed pandemic management.
Telehealth is a convenient and less costly way to provide health care that doesn’t need to be done in person, such as referrals and medical consultation. It is also beneficial to patients with chronic conditions who live in rural areas which might be far from medical facilities.
– Online classes: While most students would prefer to attend class in-person, online education has its perks as well. Like telehealth, online education has the potential to reach residents who live in rural areas, as long as they have reliable internet.
– Taking care of ourselves: Many people have more free time to work on self-improvement because they can communicate online from home which means less time spent driving. People are cooking for themselves more often, which contributes to a healthier diet, and since less businesses are open, there are less diversions from working on personal skills at home.
– Appreciation for our planet: Social distancing and driving less has also made our planet healthier. After businesses closed at the beginning of the pandemic, the reduced pollution gave rise to the cleanest water the Venice canals have ever had, and Los Angeles lost its halo of smog.
– Once everyone was forced to be inside, people started appreciating the outdoors more. Hiking, walking and biking have become much more common activities. This may be the most important lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic: to love and take care of the planet as it’s the only one we’ve got.
Let’s learn from 2020, cheer and bring in the new year.