With the COVID-19 virus we as a nation were told to go home, to social distance, to stay away from each other…and yet…we frequently heard the phrase “We are all in this together”. A bonding of our human tribe during a profound moment in human history. A moment when we truly came face to face with the reality that, yes, we really ARE all in this together. Curious isn’t it? This is probably the first time in our lives we have to come together by staying apart. Collectively we shared the understanding that we needed to cooperate and work together for our mutual benefit…for your health, for your family’s health, for our nation’s health. One wonders whether this bonding might fizzle once our common threat has run its course. When normalcy, or what each of us perceives as normal, returns to our daily lives. Is there a chance we might be able to hopefully hang onto this bonding thought of being ‘in something together’?
Those of us in Public Health have always felt we were in this together! Public Health folks routinely refer to health as a result of the ‘conditions where we live, learn, work and play’. Covers a lot of ground, we know. We routinely analyze the diseases that plague us, the social dysfunctions that ail our communities, and the social determinants of our individual and collective health. We study and assess the ways individuals…like you and I… stay healthy or fall prey to whatever health threat is around the next corner. It is time for the health conversation in America to be about more than solely the treatment of ill health.
The post-COVID world will still find us all in this together. Each person effectively social distancing and voraciously washing their hands is a potential new public health teammate. Just as COVID-19 is teaching us, systematic understanding, education, coordination and cooperation are all needed to get us where we need to go. Come join the public health team and join us in welcoming others to work together for the individual and collective health of our families, communities and society. We are truly all in this together…
Professor and Chair, Department of Public Health Education