Westmeath Wisdom: Reboot 2020

By Anne M. McCarthy

New Habits and a Little Compassion will Help Kickstart Our Economy.

Do you remember going out in the scalding sun without sunscreen? What about riding a bike without a helmet? I may be dating myself, but I even remember being a passenger in a Jeep, a muscle car and a station wagon WITHOUT wearing a seat belt (yes, I grew up in Detroit during an era of fast cars and few seat belts).

Times change and human beings get smarter or we suffer the consequences — skin cancer;  concussions and broken bones. Historically, we’ve changed our routines and created temporary and permanent adjustments that are for the greater good of society.

If our “get out of jail card” from this COVID-19 quarantine translates to practicing social distancing, wearing face-masks and gloves when necessary and washing our hands with soap and water multiple times a day, I’m all in. It seems like a small price to pay to protect the most vulnerable and kickstart our economy.

According to a 2019 study published by the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. The study also concluded, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. That means we are well on our way to behavior modification.

As each state migrates from mass quarantine to a safe policy, it’s time for the low-risk population to responsibly protect the high-risk population. We must muster up the courage and responsibly re-enter our villages, towns and cities. We need to engage as responsible citizens, overcome our fears and learn a few new habits to keep each other safe and healthy. Masks aren’t a fashion statement and social distancing may feel a bit awkward, however, these measures are interim solutions until our scientists discover a treatment or vaccine that jettisons this resilient virus from our world.

Let’s do what it takes to get back to work – it’s almost time to celebrate the 4th of July and take a well-deserved summer vacation!