Transformed by the Pandemic: Opening Up and the Return to Normal

Mark Chupp
April 27, 2020

What will life look like as we open up from sheltering in place? Will we ever return to normal? Author and artist Sonya Renee Taylor, says, “Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is revealing the long-standing disparities in our society. The virus has had a disproportionate toll on Black and Brown people. Nationally, Blacks and Latinx populations have infection rates much higher than that of whites. There are many factors that put people of color at greater risk, most related to systemic racism. Where people live and work are major factors. While many whites are sheltering in place and working from home, lower-paid essential workers, who are more likely to be people of color, are putting themselves at risk to provide food, safety, transportation, and clean buildings. Sadly, these workers receive low pay and are also less likely to have paid sick leave and health benefits. Due to institutional racism, people of color are also more likely to live in densely populated urban areas with poor air quality. We must face these injustices if we as a society hope to be better prepared for responding to a future crisis.

In Ohio, Governor DeWine has done an overall remarkable job, but lack of action to protect those in the state’s prisons has led to a potential death sentence for the imprisoned, regardless of the crime they committed. In one prison, over 70% of the inmates tested positive and 21% of all coronavirus cases in the state are made up of those behind bars. This tragic reality does not reflect the basic values we hold as a society.

As talk shifts to opening back up, let us seize this moment not to restart the economy as it was but to transform it. As the old adage states, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” We at the Community Innovation Network have a dream for all people to live in communities of inclusion, healing, and equity. If we do not want to return to the brokenness of normal, we need to commit to promoting systemic change now, while everyone’s attention is focused on what is not working. Here is my short list of priority policy changes to create greater equity and prepare us for the next pandemic or global crisis.

  1. Build a strong public health infrastructure. According to Scott Frank, a colleague here at CWRU, in 2010, Ohio was 50th out of 50 states in Public Health spending. Our 3 largest cities are in the top 6 unhealthiest cities in the US. We only spend $13 per person on public health. A small investment here would make a huge difference over time.
  2. Create Medicare for all, breaking the reliance on health insurance tied to employment and beholden to corporate interests. In today’s reality, there is no justifiable reason not to do this. Having the most deaths in the world is tied to our broken healthcare system.
  3. Establish a living wage for all workers that is indexed to the cost of living, not a one-time increase. If everyone plays by the same rules, such as a $15/hour wage, the economy absorbs the expense, workers are able to live healthier lives, and maybe corporate executives have a fraction of a fraction less wealth.
  4. Invest in a comprehensive public transportation system that efficiently connects workers to jobs and communities to one another. Ohio’s contribution of just $.63 per-capita to public transit in 2015 ranks 45th in the nation, yet we have the 14th highest ridership in the country. This compares to $24 per person in Michigan. Making public transportation a system for all rural and urban communities to use has multiple benefits.
  5. Pass the Green New Deal, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change while also trying to fix societal problems like economic inequality and racial injustice. If we are honest, climate change poses a bigger threat than the coronavirus that we are equally unprepared to face.

Sonya Renee Taylor goes on to say, “We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” Stand up for change now. Speak to elected officials, hold candidates to higher goals, demand justice for those who are disproportionately suffering from this pandemic. Let’s not squander this opportunity but work to create a legacy of restoration and justice for our children and grandchildren.

Coming up in Transformed by the Pandemic: Next, we will explore ways to transform the polarization in politics laid bare by the pandemic. The third in this series will look at individual behavior changes we can make to promote communities of healing, inclusion, and equity.


作者:Mark Chupp 翻译:崔馨元

当我们从居家令走出来后,生活会是什么样子?我们会恢复正常吗?作家兼艺术家索尼娅·蕾妮·泰勒(Sonya Renee Taylor)说;“从来都没有正常。我们在新冠状病毒前的生活不是正常的,只是我们把贪婪、不平等、疲惫、消耗、提取、分离、混乱、愤怒、囤积、憎恨和匮乏正常化了。”


俄亥俄州州长德温(Governor DeWine)的工作总体上是出色的,但由于缺乏保护该州监狱囚犯的行动,无论囚犯犯下何种罪行,都有可能被判死刑。在一所监狱里,超过70%的囚犯检测结果呈阳性,而该州21%的冠状病毒病例都是由这些囚犯构成的。这一悲惨的现实并没有反映我们作为一个社会所持的基本价值观。

随着话题转向开放,让我们抓住这个时机,不是要重新启动经济,而是要转变它。正如那句老话所说:“每个系统都是精心设计的,目的是为了得到它所得到的结果。”在Community Innovation Network,我们有一个梦想,希望所有人都生活在包容、治愈和公正的的社区中。如果我们不想回到那个被看作是常态的破碎状态,我们现在就需要致力于推动系统性的变革,而每个人的注意力都集中在不奏效的地方。


  1. 加强公共卫生基础设施。据凯斯西储大学的同事斯科特·弗兰克(Scott Frank)说,2010年,俄亥俄州的公共卫生支出在50个州中排名最末。我们的3个大城市是美国最不健康的6个城市之一。我们在公共卫生方面的人均支出仅为13美元。随着时间的推移,在这里的一笔小投资会带来巨大的不同。
  2. 建立全民医保,打破对与就业相关、受制于企业利益的医疗保险的依赖。在今天的现实中,没有正当的理由不这样做。我们是世界上死亡人数最多的国家这与我们支离破碎的医疗体系有关。
  3. 为所有工人制定与生活成本挂钩的最低生活工资,而不是一次性增加。如果每个人都遵守同样的规则,比如每小时15美元的工资,经济就会吸收这些开支,工人们就能过上更健康的生活,也许公司高管的财富会减少一小部分。
  4. 投资建设一个综合的公共交通系统,有效地将工人与工作和社区联系起来。2015年,俄亥俄州的人均公共交通贡献仅为0.63美金,在全国排名第45位,但我们的客流量在全国排名第14位。相比之下,密歇根州的人均公共交通贡献为24美元。使公共交通成为一种系统,对所有农村和城市社区有多种好处。
  5. 通过“绿色新政”,旨在减少温室气体排放,以避免气候变化的最坏后果,同时也试图解决经济不平等和种族不平等等社会问题。坦率地说,气候变化带来的威胁比我们同样没有准备好面对的新冠状病毒更大。

索尼娅·蕾妮·泰勒(Sonya Renee Taylor)继续说道:“我们有机会缝一件新衣服,一件适合所有人类和自然的衣服。”现在就为改变站出来。对话民选官员,要求候选人追求更高的目标,为那些在这场大流行中遭受严重苦难的人伸张正义。让我们不要浪费这个机会,而是努力为我们的子孙后代创造一个重建和正义的遗产。