Author Therese Anne Fowler wrote, “Some rules are nothing but old habits that people are afraid to change.”

She could not have described the resistant mindset of many Americans toward change any clearer. Yet, the reality of our situation has forced our hand to drop the rules and habits onto which we so firmly held. Our response has exposed the weaknesses and unnecessary rules in how the United States operated.

The debilitating consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have blatantly exposed the shortcomings in the broken healthcare system of the U.S. While the dishonesty of our government officials hurt efforts to contain the virus, the unpreparedness of it did not make matters better. Limited testing and shortages of supplies have endangered health care workers. They have forced hospitals to turn people away and inaccurately skewed numbers that would allow the U.S. to gauge what it is up against. It was evident that crushing administration and insurance costs while raising premiums and deductibles encumbers our current healthcare system. The pandemic has opened the doors to its real harm.

Until all Americans have access to affordable health care, our system will be as overwhelmed and defective as it is now. The pandemic has forced us to take backward steps in light of the issues of our system. Yet, it has also allowed us to take progressive steps forward. The call for social distancing and the necessity to allocate resources for battling COVID-19 has consequently loosened the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements and expanded telemedicine. This act has allowed more medical providers to use video calling to treat patients in good faith. The rise of telemedicine will alter our health care system in a way that shifts the traditional location of care. In doing so, it could alleviate overwhelmed hospitals and unaffordable costs of in-person care. There is great benefit in fewer people in waiting rooms and more in-person care to those who need it most.

To slow the spread of the virus, schools have transitioned to the virtual classroom, modifying the way we educate. This transition, while sudden and unwelcome by some, has sanctioned us to recognize new, more efficient solutions in remote learning. Through our current and complete dependence on technology, innovations in education that utilize a greater reliance on technology will inevitably arise. With extenuating student loan debts, many students may opt to continue online courses.

When we can easily remove rules or habits out of necessity, it often leads us to ask why those rules were even there in the first place. For example, the postponing and canceling of standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT, has brought many to question the validity and need for such tests. In the wake of the Varsity Blues scandal, this is a pondering argument that has been further advanced. Also, the alteration in learning environments has highlighted the disparities in internet access and availability in technology. The virtual classroom, now being the sole guideline of learning, has changed access from a suggestion to a necessity. It is apparent now more than ever that a digital divide exists for students that we need to close.

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the broad scope of our lives in the way we educate and provide healthcare. It has forced us to reexamine our daily choices and rules by which we live. The digital future of our world will be stronger than ever before, as our reliance on technology has widened audiences and adjusted routines. Many Americans have transitioned to online shopping in compliance with social distancing, which may prove to be a more valuable and finalized pattern. Many will learn they can perform the same job efficiently at home remotely, rather than losing time and resources in commuting or paying for office space. The saying, “This could have easily been done over the phone” will be a new reality.

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