By Abbie Cornett
I keep hearing everyone talking about how they cannot wait for things to return to the way they were before COVID-19. Like everyone else, I am tired of social distancing, wearing a mask, and not freely traveling like I did less than two years ago. However, uncomfortable as the last year has been, not all of the changes were terrible! We as a society have learned several important health habits that we should continue postpandemic.
The first is how we greet one another. Traditionally, those in the Western culture shakes hands, hug or kiss each other on the cheek when greeting. But, let's think about that for a second. Can you honestly think of a better way to spread germs? I can't!
The second is how we view our role in public health. Many Americans resent having to wear a mask and feel it infringes on their liberty. I am not saying we should all wear masks after the pandemic. I am saying if you are sick and must go out, wear one for the good of others. If you need proof, they work; just look at the statistics for flu cases. In the 2019-2020 flu season, the United States had approximately 24,000 deaths from the flu. So far this flu season, there have been only about 450 deaths!1
The third and maybe the most important is how we view work. There is nothing noble about going to work sick. If you are ill, stay home! While this seems like a no-brainer, it isn't. Many workers don't have that option either because they can't afford it, or their work doesn't provide sick leave. For the common good, all jobs should be required to offer employees sick leave. Yes, I know this is more big government, but studies have found workers who don't have paid sick leave are 1.5 times more likely to work sick. But, if employees are given the option to stay home when they are sick, it can reduce outbreaks of illness at job sites and increase overall productivity.
Let's try to take what we have learned from the past year into a healthy future for everyone.
1 Postpandemic Health Habits. Scientific American, June 2021, p8.