On Friday, one of my family members over the age of sixty had to be hospitalized for a brief illness completely unrelated to the pandemic. She reports that the medical personnel exhibited care, compassion and efficiency. While she noticed a plethora of hand sanitizer and hand washing, the doctors, nurses and staff concentrated on treating her condition, not persevering on COVID-19. 

Notwithstanding the anxiety that accompanies a family member’s hospitalization, especially one in the high risk group susceptible to the current threat, the report of professional, dedicated, health-care professionals working as usual provided me with a sense of safety and security.  Our institutions, while by no means perfect, are made up of fellow citizens, doing their best, even under unprecedented circumstances.

Our institutions, while by no means perfect, are made up of fellow citizens, doing their best, even under unprecedented circumstances.

As the news develops and restrictions mount in our country’s containment efforts, we hope all of our goals are aligned. Stop this threat, keep people safe and healthy and, of course, learn so we can prevent it from recurring. We may not agree with everything our leaders are doing or saying but, generally, speaking, we have some level of trust in both their intentions and their decision-making, even with those whose politics differ.  By and large, people are following the government’s and medical professionals’ directions. If we as a society had lost complete trust in our leaders, our collective response would be much different.

During 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and previous viral epidemics, we scrambled, for sure, but disaster and contingency plans currently being instituted by hospitals and bureaucracies came about as a direct result of other times of crisis.  Once we overcome this troubling situation, no doubt exists that government at all levels must study and learn what we did well and where can we improve.

Here in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, many seemingly intractable problems become magnified as we address the pandemic.

Here in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, many seemingly intractable problems become magnified as we address the pandemic.  Especially vulnerable are those in poverty.  Catastrophes, whether man-made, natural or a combination of both, reveal that persistent and long term reliance on government for our daily needs is simply not sustainable. 

If schools close, whether for days or weeks, we should be focusing on how we can continue our children’s education, not their only regular source of nutrition. While an economy in contraction will always result in belt tightening in households, we should not have broad swaths of citizens in panic mode because next week’s paycheck might be missing or reduced.  If we need local municipalities to step in and stop evictions or foreclosures because of the threat of a short term recession, we have larger cultural problems that must be addressed.

When we contain this horrible virus, and I have no doubt that we will, in addition to tightening up our disaster and contingency plans, I hope Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania takes a path to makes as many citizens as possible independent and self-sustaining.

When we contain this horrible virus, and I have no doubt that we will, in addition to tightening up our disaster and contingency plans, I hope Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania takes a path to make as many citizens as possible independent and self-sustaining. Rather than feeding our children their meals at school, let’s develop an economy such that government safety nets do not turn into long term solutions. We need government for some things but not for everything – and we certainly should not depend on it not for basic sustenance. Hopefully, Pennsylvania can learn to be a leader in its citizens’ long term viability.

Linda A. Kerns is an attorney and a co-founder of Broad + Liberty. She can be reached at lkerns@broadandliberty.com. Follow @lindakernslaw.

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