by Matthew Fogg '94
As I reflect on the past year, I can't help but note how the pandemic has brought out both the best and the worst in human beings. I'll focus mostly on the best. The development of effective, safe vaccines within a year is an absolute triumph of modern medical science. Thousands of scientists working together tirelessly with the same goal produced amazing results. We also saw the best of our fellow human beings in front line workers in many industries (health care, retail, grocery, transportation, etc) risking their lives on a daily basis to serve their fellow human beings. I couldn't be more proud of my colleagues and friends in all levels of health care and the amazing efforts they made under incredible strain, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Simple acts of kindness such as delivering groceries to elderly neighbors were very common. At the beginning of the pandemic, an acquaintance of mine dropped off 30 N95s at my house because she knew I was seeing patients and needed protection.
Unfortunately, the pandemic also brought out the worst in some of us. It has highlighted the inequality in all aspects of our society that lead to worse outcomes for poor and minority populations. Some national, state and local leaders denied the seriousness of the virus, politicized the response to the virus, refused to model good behavior by wearing masks and social distancing, and undermined efforts of public health officials to stop the spread of the virus. Public health officials have had their lives threatened for doing their best to protect those they serve. Many citizens couldn't be bothered to wear a simple mask to protect the lives of those around them. We failed to adhere to the lessons we should have learned in 1918.
The pandemic revealed both the best and worst in America, Americans, and human nature. Let's all continue to strive to be our best selves and move forward towards making our country and our world more equitable and just for the most vulnerable among us.
During the past year, we invited alumni to share reflections as they faced Covid-19 early on through their professional occupations. A year later, they look back and reflect on lessons learned. Find and read Matthew's original 'Ephs on the frontlines' submission.