Back to normal, old problems are back

By Joshua Corcuera

At this point in time, with a few days left in July of 2022, it appears that society is increasingly returning to normal. It seems that the pandemic is over, even though there is a spike in cases recently as reported in various media outlets. But this spike is not extremely enormous, nor is it going to stop society from returning to normal. However, as good as returning to our pre-pandemic lifestyle may sound, we must not neglect the return of old problems—heavy traffic and crowded classrooms, for instance—that we will soon face as well.

It is good to hear that a vast majority of Filipinos targeted for inoculation against COVID-19 are fully vaccinated. This is why, for the most part of this year, cases of the coronavirus do not make it into headlines. Much better to hear is the fact that deaths caused by the highly contagious illness are low—which is also a testament as to the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing deaths and hospitalization. For the most part of the year, several other topics dominated social media from sports to politics, and not COVID-related topics like in 2020. To me, these are positive signs in the sense that we are past the worst of the pandemic, and we have to move forward to new opportunities and new challenges.

We are now approaching a post-COVID world, we have recovered most losses incurred in 2020 and early 2021, and we are now returning to our schools and offices. Although we still have to wear face masks outside, it is also likely that the day where wearing face masks are no longer required would be very soon. Thanks to science, we managed to solve our biggest worry in 2020, so far.

Now that we have mostly returned to normal, we also have to deal with the problems that suddenly ended when the pandemic came. I am talking of heavy traffic, crowded classrooms, crime especially in urban areas, higher-than-normal inflation, and so forth. Plus, we must remain vigilant of the fact that COVID may suddenly return which is why being mindful of our health and hygiene is of utmost importance at all times, in all places. While returning to normal is certainly good, it is not full of rainbows and good things—old problems have resurfaced, problems which we must believe we can overcome. If we managed to surmount the pandemic, then why would we not be able to address these old problems that emerged again?

One of the insights I gained from the pandemic since 2020 is that science and data can help a lot in solving real-life social problems. Hence, we can strive for data-driven solutions in alleviating heavy traffic, in making classrooms more suitable for conducive learning, in reducing crime, in controlling inflation. Speaking of data-driven solutions, it demands support for experts, and not disagreeing with them simply because we do not like the things we hear from them.

We are back to normal and so are old problems, but with new lessons from the pandemic, we can also mitigate these old challenges that we would face again.