They say there is nothing like a crisis to make or break a system, and COVID-19 would certainly qualify as a crisis. What lessons have been learned for the City of Coronado, how will these lessons impact your decision making processes as a Coronado City Council member?
The World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a “once-in-a-century health crisis.” Creating sound public policy for something that happens once every century, especially when that “something” is a novel virus, is inherently difficult and, at times, chaotic.
By every objective measure, Coronado continues to perform exceptionally well in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as measured by some of the lowest cases per capita when compared to the San Diego region and state of California. The County of San Diego Department of Health heralded our efforts as “a model to be emulated by other” jurisdictions and our community is to be commended for their efforts to protect the health and safety of all.
However, there are several lessons from navigating the pandemic that should be leaned on to help improve public policy in all areas.
First, policy objectives must be clear, measurable, and substantiated. From “flattening the curve,” to “slowing the spread,” to “until a vaccine arrives,” are all concepts we can understand. However, answering the subsequent questions of “how flat?” and “how slow?” and “for how long?” are ones that were not initially answered and are still unanswered in many ways. The reasoning and goals of public policy must be clearly stated and explained.
Second, policies must be equitable for all. During the initial lockdown implementation, big businesses and special interests, received special exemptions to operate which were not afforded to small businesses. This was a huge policy misstep that severely eroded the public’s trust in the initial health orders and unfairly hurt millions of small business owners and their employees. Policy should be evenly applied for everyone.
Next, policy should not be based on fear or conspiracy theories. The fact is that COVID-19 is more contagious and deadly than other respiratory illnesses for many demographics. However, it is not a death sentence for most Americans and the risks, while elevated, are mitigable with proper precautions. Policy must be based on data and risk management rather than emotion and unsubstantiated stories.
Next, everyone deserves grace. Yes, everyone. We live in an ever-polarizing time with more information and misinformation bombarding us constantly. The person desperate to go back to work to put food on their table for their family doesn’t want your grandma to die. And the elderly person with an underlying pulmonary condition wearing a mask isn’t part of the “conspiracy.” We are all just people doing the best we can, given the different circumstances we face.
Finally, and most importantly, our community is wonderful. Yes, the awful online commentary and attacks on one another are a glaring exception, but there are so many more examples of kindness. The drive-by birthday celebrations, mask drives, N-2-N program where neighbors helped neighbors, restaurants digging deep to provide meals to those in need, community members stepping up to help support locals restaurants were all moving examples of “community.” We all play a role in making our Coronado “home” and these acts of humanity will always be remembered.