No one escaped the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past year, the Coronavirus has dominated discussions, affected our politics and restricted our social interactions. While coping with the palpable fears and harrowing realities, communities had to find, discover and reinvent ways to adjust and thrive as best as possible.
The mounting, shocking deaths numbed our hearts and minds, prompting intense disbelief that a pandemic of this magnitude could even occur. It did and still does. Yet, within the realms of sorrow and anger, the driving human spirit persisted.
Consciously or unconsciously, the pandemic taught various lessons of survival, enhanced core beliefs and provided valuable insights going forward.
For most people, the pandemic perspective opened pathways to resiliency, adaptation, creativity, and renewed spirituality. Many people — the frontline workers — persisted at their own peril to serve. They emerged from invisibility and obscurity to highly visible heroes whose necessary service has been taken for granted. Given the context of the pandemic, the Carolina Peacemaker asked several community leaders to share insights, personally and professionally, on what they felt, learned and shared during the past year, and how these so-called lessons will guide them in the future.
The Peacemaker spoke with Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Guilford County Commissioner Melvin “Skip” Alston, community leader Penny Smith, Providence Baptist Church Pastor Darryl Aaron, UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam Jr., Annie Penn Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alvin Powell, and Bennett College Chaplain Rev. Natalie McLean.
Below are the comments from Dr. Alvin Powell
Physicians and health care workers were challenged to be flexible and fluid in their response to the greatest public health emergency of our lifetime. We were wondering if we had enough ventilators, enough personal protective equipment, but with the help of our community and a lot of creativity, we came through. It really shows how we all depend on one another.
When we first opened our website to register for COVID-19 vaccinations, marginalized communities fell behind in signing up. We realized we needed to work with people in communities to reach everyone in those communities.
That is a method I hope we use more in the future. The pandemic spotlighted the inequities in health care. As a society, I hope we have the will to begin addressing those inequalities and many others with the level of attention they each deserve.