It’s hard to believe that more than three years have passed since the first Covid case came to Rhode Island. The subsequent months and years have reminded us all of the fleeting nature of …
It’s hard to believe that more than three years have passed since the first Covid case came to Rhode Island. The subsequent months and years have reminded us all of the fleeting nature of time.
That time has brought pain, trauma, and suffering for many people. The full effects of the pandemic on our students, particularly those who were at those critical junctures entering middle and high school when schools closed and remote learning became a necessity, may not fully yet be realized for even more time, as test scores continue to track those impacts.
The impact on our collective mental health is also clear, but somewhat uncertain in its permanence. Throughout Covid, national polling showed that more Americans than ever before felt feelings of hopelessness, depression, general anxiety, and a despair for the future. One poll found that a majority of people, for the first time in the poll’s history, felt as though their lives in five years would not be better off than at the present moment. That is something that didn’t even happen during the Great Recession of 2008 and the years proceeding.
But despite the unavoidable gloominess that has come from our brush with a worldwide health crisis, there are positive lessons to glean from the experience three years from its inception.
For starters, our population showed it is one that can adapt and overcome all forms of adversity. Businesses adapted their models to incorporate remote work, restaurants perfected takeout ordering and expanded options, and our scientific leaders rallied to create a new vaccine that staved off the worst possible outcomes from the virus.
But that type of gritty resilience could also be seen through the actions of everyday people, most of the time invisible and unnoticed by the greater public, who staffed our boards of elections and city canvassing authorities during what was undoubtedly the most unprecedented and logistically challenging election in American history during that autumn of 2020.
That topic became the subject of its own feature film, “No Time to Fail,” which followed Providence, Central Falls, and Cranston canvassing employees and poll workers who raced against the clock to process an avalanche of mail-in ballots and ensure socially distant in-person ballots could all be counted and tallied. The enormity of the task simply cannot be overstated, and the film is a victory lap for those dedicated individuals who, against the odds and at times against the venom of their fellow humans, rose to the occasion to ensure our democracy continued undeterred.
That film, which has since been seen throughout the nation, is having a homecoming celebration at the newly renovated Park Theatre on May 18. It’s a fitting full circle for a story in which new chapters are still being written. It’s worth reflecting on.
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