GUEST COLUMN

My perspective with respect to Covid-19

Though the current state of affairs put the globe on pause, this gave me time and opportunity to  reflect on many aspects; it has driven me to innovate continuously and revisit my priorities.  Covid-19 is indeed new and unfamiliar to everyone, the isolation and separation we now face  does not feel amicable to many of us. However, in reality, the world (us) needed a time-out to  remember how to appreciate what (world) it had but forgot to experience. 

Let’s forget that pandemic spurred creative movements across platforms like Zoom, Instagram  and Facebook. Many people took to “going Live” on platforms to connect with their friends and  family at home for special occasions. We all witnessed the power of connecting socially – via  virtual celebrations, get-togethers, virtual graduations, happy hours, birthdays and more. I have  noticed that staying connected (using virtual links) played an important role in decreasing stress  in many and it has proven to be just as essential to our overall well being. By reaching out and  keeping up, we all can help create a stronger community in a time of uncertainty. 

Most of the businesses have been fast-tracking their processes so people are set up to work  from home, using programs like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and more. While they were not able to  talk to their co-workers face-to-face, it had made things better for their employees, as well as  potentially improving productivity. The only con I could see, is that while it’s huge that new  technology is being used as businesses adapt to working remotely, with new technology comes  new privacy and security concerns for users to cope with – not from technology perspective 🙂  you know what I am saying.…sometimes many of us forget to turn off camera when it is not  necessary and each one us have their own moments during these days of work from home.…  TMI visually. 

COVID-19 pandemic did affect older people way differently than younger generations. Older  adults faced dire outcomes from the virus. It has still been a challenge to prevent older people  from being exposed to the virus because they may not be fully independent. I strongly advocate  more time and care for elderly people, their families and their caregivers as it is an essential  part of the comprehensive response to the pandemic. Health experts have increasingly begun to  worry about the impacts of lockdown on this population. I am glad that Tech’s role in helping  seniors overcome loneliness amid COVID-19 pandemic is tremendous. My parents and elders in  my family have gotten used to these tech tools and using the same more than I. 

Whatever we have can be taken away at a moment’s notice. I further learnt to appreciate each  moment with near and dear, even the small ones, during this pandemic. I see that now more  than ever. Returning to “normal” isn’t something I’m very much excited about. Everyone  desperately wants to go back to normal sooner, but quite frankly, that’s not only something I am  looking for. When things settle down, I want something new — where the lessons learnt during  2020 are lessons we keep until 2021 and beyond. We may not have all the answers, but I know  that we’re going to leave this year 2020 with a level growth that could have only come from  what we’ve been through. Having my world shrunk to fit into four walls made me realize that 

there’s so much my family was buying into that means absolutely nothing. Both professionally  and personally, boundaries are a must. I have found a new-found appreciation for my loved  ones greater than anything I’ve ever known. 

I have seen that there is always lot goodness and humanity, even in the darkness. At the  beginning of the pandemic, there was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE)  among hospitals and health care facilities, and many health care workers were reusing the same  disposable mask for days or weeks at a time. Immediately, our community members gathered  together to procure masks, face shields, and hand sew masks for health care workers. Some of  the restaurants were donating food to hospital workers and first responders. And people,  though busy, were volunteering to bring groceries to the elderly. These acts of kindness and  appreciation from the community has helped keep me and many of my friends going, working  day after day assisting the needed to best of our abilities during this pandemic. This pandemic  also made me realize how much I miss social interaction and things as simple as a hug or coffee  with a friend at the café because we humans are social creatures, and we all need social  interaction and human contact once in a while. 

The biggest lesson I learnt this year was to not let myself wobble on breaking points constantly.  It’s really very dreary, but enough sleep, good food, exercise, fresh air and most of all  communicating and keeping in touch with near and dear makes all the difference.  

Last but not the least, this crisis has taught us that during such times of pandemic  communication is vital; we need science and public health-based response that needs to be  regularly communicated clearly at the national level and all the more needs to be considered as  a social responsibility by everyone. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to pause and  reflect on the past year — and learn important lessons together.

– Ramakrishna Penumarthy 

President – Telugu Association of Greater Boston (TAGB) 2020-22