COVID-19 is teaching us more than just how to wash our hands

Coronavirus is affecting every single person in one way or another. It is an unprecedented situation that seems apocalyptic in nature, and everyone is experiencing an extreme disruption in their lives.

Fear has gripped the entire world, causing us to reflect on the lives we used to lead and what the world might look like when this is over.

The loss of life with COVID-19 is extreme and disheartening. Families are losing loved ones from this terrible virus- one that is easy to catch and festers unknowingly in many of its carriers until its too late. Anxiety about what life is going to look like in the next few months has grappled the nation. What started off as claims that it's "Just another flu," quickly morphed into the hoarding of cleaning supplies and toilet paper, to what we see now- social distancing, the closing of schools, and the quarantining of communities and the threats of martial law.

We have seen people fight over toilet paper and water. We have scrolled past family and friends complaining about how they have to miss their spring break vacation, cancel their cruises, and how the world is over-reacting. We have watched as people argue conspiracy theories or how the government is doing too little to protect us. But as the weeks have continued, we have begun to see a shift in the demeanor towards this virus, allowing us to recognize not only its seriousness but also the good that is coming from it. Like Mr. Rogers scary times, we HAVE to look for the good.

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Although the effects of COVID-19 on society have been vast and large, not all of the second- and third-order effects have been bad. Of course, the loss of life and the toll on our healthcare systems have been grave, but there have been some amazing acts of kindness, generosity, and civility among the whole of society.

It has been three weeks since Italy has started its mandated quarantine. Videos of people singing with each other off of balconies have started circulating online, showing us that even in a time where we are separated by social distancing, we can still be connected. The social distancing efforts have increased air quality and have cleaned the canals in Venice.

Here in the United States, outside of the Black Friday-style fights over toilet paper, we have seen our nation come together. Hundreds of organizations are offering free resources to parents who are now navigating the tricky waters of homeschooling. Large corporations and organizations like the NBA and MLB are shutting their doors even though it comes at a significant personal cost to them. The government is doing what it can to help and protect families who are not able to work because their children's schools and daycares are closed. Stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and CVS are allowing mobile testing centers to be set-up in their parking lots. More and more people are learning to work from home as employers find ways to accommodate their employees on a remote basis, allowing them to take care of themselves and their families.

On a smaller scale, communities have rallied together to provide support and light during what could otherwise be a dark time. We are saying no to playdates and parties- not for ourselves but for the good of the community around us. We are helping to spread cheer and smiles with Christmas lights being put back up on houses, and sending each other memes and activities we have found online to do with the kids. We have canceled vacations and we have changed the way we work, go to school, and operate in society in order to protect a small community of humanity and to help restore our healthcare infrastructure.

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We are also starting to see families come together. In a society that has been so focused on the go-go-go mentality, we see people starting to actually spend time together. In any given neighborhood you will see families going for walks or hikes together. Within homes, you might find families actually sitting down for dinner instead of rushing out the door to soccer practice. You see parents taking a vested interest in their children's education, completing projects and school assignments together. You see neighborhoods setting up scavenger hunts and sidewalk chalk messages for families to find together as they get their daily exercise.

The coronavirus has affected every single person in the world, save for a few countries that haven't yet seen any infections. But if this horrible situation has done anything to the world, it has united us. It has brought us together, reminding each other that in the end, we are all just like each other. We are no longer looking at how we are affected as individuals, but rather what we can do to help our community even if it means making life inconvenient or difficult for ourselves.

We are coming together as a society, as an entire world, to take care of one another no matter and protect those who are most vulnerable to this disease.

Although this virus is scary and the world looks nothing like it did a few months ago, the way the world is beginning to look is encouraging to me. I hate that it was brought on but such trauma, but it shows how humanity will make it through, and be stronger for it.

Photo: Robert Wei/Shutterstock