Things to keep

By Jenn Watt

Vehicles were lined up down County Road 21 on Saturday morning as residents arrived to get their flu shot through a drive-through service offered by the Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team. Although the line was long, service was reported to be swift and efficient and by the end of the day, more than 580 vaccinations had been administered.

The process was so convenient, even when we’re through with the pandemic next fall, it would be worth continuing the practice. In fact, there are many new ways of doing things we’ve adopted in the last seven months that we could stand to keep around, even when there’s no deadly virus to avoid.

Drive-in/drive-through service: This year saw the launch of the Little Pit Drive-In at Abbey Gardens, offering weekly film screenings and the ability to order snacks via your smartphone. It also saw drive-by birthdays and parades of all kinds, bringing joy to people stuck inside. Drive-through testing and vaccinations were not only convenient, but allowed for people with mobility issues to more easily access health care.

Online meetings/events: A huge leap forward for public access and democracy, we now have the ability to watch our decision-makers in action as long as we can access an internet connection. Barriers to attending meetings such as working a 9-to-5 job, caring for children or ailing family members, bad weather, or lack of transportation have fallen away. (We are also now familiar enough with the technology we can open our book clubs, training programs, board meetings, concerts, poetry readings etc. to a wider online audience.)

Virtual learning: The pandemic has demonstrated that virtual learning is within our grasp and could be offered more broadly than it has in the past. Colleges and universities have adapted their programming to allow students to stay home as have the public school boards.

Better public health understanding: We’ve adapted well to mask use and social distancing and workplaces have erected clear barriers to limit the spread of COVID-19 – methods we can employ in the future when we aren’t feeling well. We have a better understanding of how viruses spread and the importance of keeping ourselves and others safe.

The changes society has enacted in an incredibly short period of time have been impressive. We’ve learned to be better connected and more responsive. We’ve learned the importance of keeping ourselves healthy for the health of the community. We’ve learned that services previously only offered in-person can be made available to a wider range of people online.
Although we would have been better off without COVID-19, some of the modifications we’ve made to daily life don’t need to disappear with the virus. We can pick and choose what we keep.