“May you live in interesting times” could be received as a fond wish, or be what it is claimed to be; a translation of a traditional curse. Be what it may, that expression is applicable to our times in history. This COVID-19 battle that we are enduring will be recorded as another of the never-ending challenges faced by humans.

For the many who hope that their lives will soon return to the normals as experienced prior to our COVID-19 period, forget it, that exiting state of affairs, commonly referred to as the status-quo, is dead. Whatever their previous forms, our new normals have arrived and will remain until they too evolve into what is to become the next new normal.

One of my former “normals” was that I did not get the yearly flu vaccine, until this past November. I do not like to take medications, preferring to deal with medical occurrences as naturally as I am able while having a lifestyle that, hopefully, will assist me to stay as healthy as possible.

In my new normal, when the time arrives for me to get into the que to have my COVID-19 vaccine, I will be there without hesitation. I want to not only protect myself but also those with whom I interact, thereby assisting them to possibly avoid contacting this deadly foe.

Sir Winston Churchill has been recognized as having stated: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” A crisis demands that we examine it and make adjustments where possible. The current challenges of this global COVID-19 crisis require us to make changes to our world-wide interdependences, personal lifestyles, essential services, and individual expectations to confront and to defeat it. In addition to the before-mentioned points are the economic inequalities that are impacting the lives of countless families and individuals.

With the societal inadequacies and inequalities that have been glaringly revealed due to our current pandemic, I am confident books will be written regarding the lessons learned and adaptions necessitated from COVID-19. Short of going into informative depth within this brief opinion article, I shall express my thoughts on several of its noteworthy variables.

The first is the importance of an adequate health care system for all. The existing inadequacies and inequalities that have been jarringly exposed because of COVID-19 must be corrected and replaced with services that will enable us defeat this pandemic, and also to be ready for the next one that rears its deadly head.

Another point is the frightening truth that these viral killers mutate into new strains as exemplified by the COVID variants that have recently been detected within Canada and other nations. With millions of cases world=wide, only a naïve person would believe the COVID-19 strain now killing humans by the thousands every day will not continue to mutate.

Not to lessen their individual importance but for brevity I shall reference our health care, educational and penal institutions as a combined entry. So as to be able to adequately combat the next viral attack, their facility designs and operational procedures will need to change. To hope that their status-quo will remain is a fool’s fantasy. When humans are placed together for whatever the reason, safeguards must be in place to ensure all are at the lowest possible level of risk.

Such a need for structural redesigns is also necessary for our commercial involvements, be they our work places, shopping opportunities, food supplies, entertainment venues, restaurants choices, and the list could go on. In fact, there is not a single instance where I can consider it to be exempt from a re-examination to ensure its safe delivery, for both the providers and recipients.

Finally, there are groups within our diverse society that need our added assistance, groups such as the low income, the aged, the homeless, northern communities’ residents, and persons with developmental disabilities. Many of their members are especially vulnerable to viral attacks.

If you long to go back to whatever was your pre-COVID-19 normal, I am sorry to disappoint you but those times are gone and our new normals have arrived. Our mutual challenges are to strive to move forward to defeat this viral enemy while preparing for the next one that is certain to eventually arrive.

Please work to stay well as we advance into our new normals and a challenging new year; this crisis too shall pass.

Ray Bates