How COVID-19 could make us healthier

COVID-19 has exposed countless weaknesses and inequities in our health care systems, with long-term effects that will be felt for generations to come. Yet it has also given us an important opportunity to improve where we have failed. Public health is now deeply embedded in our consciousness as a top priority. The pandemic has already helped facilitate long-overdue improvements in our health care system, such as the rapid expansion in virtual care and greater awareness of racial health disparities. But further progress will not be inevitable without more comprehensive reforms.

Some positive changes will come in the form of how we adapt our behavior to protect ourselves and others. After almost a year of vigilant hand washing, sanitizing, and mask-wearing, many of us are recoiling at how unsanitary our pre-pandemic actions were. The idea of powering through a cold or illness at the office is no longer to be celebrated. Instead, we are left with much greater respect for employees who choose to work remotely when ill and employers who are willing to offer the flexibility or the sick leave to let staff stay home. Even mask-wearing – a hotly debated topic across the U.S. – may become the norm whenever anyone feels ill, much like in Asia, where it has long been encouraged. With a historical decline in influenza cases this season, we are already seeing the benefits of the approach. If we persist with better personal hygiene beyond the pandemic, the trend could continue, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives every year.

Read the full article on The Hill.

Originally published on The Hill on March 2, 2021.   

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.