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COVID-19: Pandemic could change American culture

World War II and 9/11 both changed the way Americans thought about and understood their country. We may be going there again in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The rush to aid the victims of the pandemic by the health care system, nonprofits, business and, yes, the government, has been nothing short of heroic. Americans and their divided Congress agreed quickly on parting with now up to nearly $3 trillion of their tax money to aid those who lost their job or their business.

And most importantly, all Americans have given up some of their freedoms by adhering to stay-at-home orders so their neighbors might be sheltered from the risk of the deadly virus.

We see today cracks in that armor as protesters, unmasked and unencumbered by medical facts, take to the streets to argue that government is still the problem even when faced with a deadly virus that as of Friday had killed 240,000 of the world’s citizens and 63,000 Americans.

Those COVID deniers, or those who don’t think this is serious, are “100 percent wrong,” said Gov. Tim Walz. We agree.

We hope COVID-19 offers lessons for 2020 and beyond.

We can only hope that more people will cast a skeptical eye on the disinformation infrastructure that has become a cancer on our culture.

We can only hope that where we once saw unemployment payments as a government handout, we will now see them as a hand-up.

We can only hope that where we once gave little attention to those who didn’t have paid family leave as part of their employment, we will now see the lifesaving difference it can make to our loved ones, friends and neighbors.

We can only hope where we once took health care workers, food service workers and others at risk for granted, we will now see them as hard-working people who keep us safe and fed.

We can only hope that we might turn from the idea that “government is the problem” to one that says a government for the people, by the people and of the people, can solve problems.

— The Free Press of Mankato

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