Nearly all disasters and catastrophes drive people to make changes that can lead to more safety in the future.

After the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, airlines made security improvements to try and avoid the situation happening again. The 2000 presidential elections brought improvements to the balloting system, and the AIDS epidemic encouraged young people to more seriously consider the ramifications of engaging sexual activities and or practicing abstinence. 

Often in life, it’s easy to defend the status quo with the explanation, “this is how we’ve always done it.” 

Scenarios like these force society to adopt new ways and consider new approaches to achieving the same goals, although I find “the new normal” to be a flawed phrase in its literal meaning.

I predict there will be a few habits that remain in place after the COVID-19 contagion numbers have dwindled, despite these being new measures first developed during the pandemic.

I do not think face mask use will become as much of an everyday occurrence in the long term as it is now, but I do think we will see masks being worn in public every once in a while, especially by those with weak immune systems. Even after a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, it remains to be seen how long its effectiveness will last. Pundits on both sides of the aisle have brought up flu mortality statistics to further their point, and these numbers have likely opened some people’s eyes to the harsh realities of that contagious disease.

Society will likely practice better sanitation as a whole at businesses and among individuals.

Governmentally, there is also potential for possible change. Until recently the Park County commissioners and many other boards did not offer live access to their meetings through video or phone. The commissioners typically meet during the workday on Tuesdays, a scheduling time that prevents many people from attending. 

In addition to offering live video of their meetings, the board and county are now looking into offering recordings of these meetings either on the county website or on YouTube, which would allow constituents to easily access certain portions or entire meetings without having to attend in-person. Although the county had already offered audio recordings to the public long prior to the pandemic, these had to be personally requested from the clerk’s office.

If we want more people to engage in local government, the powers that be need to go out of their way to try and help it happen.

Certain people have lamented the viewpoint that their personal freedoms have been infringed upon due to certain restrictions put in place through state health orders. There was similar outrage when seat belt requirements were initiated and in 1919 when the influenza pandemic ravaged San Francisco.

Although I don’t agree with this synopsis, I fully respect those who do feel this way and their passion. I hope their outrage leads to greater overall civic engagement, voter turnout and participation in politics, the same avenues many generations of Americans have used to pursue liberty and justice for all.

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