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Shifting, “unprecedented”, times

With the WHO announcement that the covid-19 outbreak is a pandemic, western hemisphere governments began to enact new plans and ways of thinking to protect the people who live in these countries.

The Governments of Canada and Ontario, for example, have communicated on a daily basis and set up websites to share the most current information relevant to Canadians and Ontarians, respectively.

But the real story has been the ways in which people and smaller, non-governmental, organizations have come together to fill a need. Social media is replete with examples of small businesses offering to reduce or eliminate fees along individuals and groups choosing to support local businesses specifically to help them survive the crisis.

Social media, for all its faults and criticisms, has amplified public awareness of this crisis. At first, it was an echo chamber of panic and reactionary comments. To be sure, there are still many people offering uninformed — even racist, in some cases — commentary about the origins of the virus. We even saw the worst of humanity coming out, as people hoarded what they believed would be critical supplies and some even tried to profit from this crisis. But as more information has come out, and as our knowledge has increased, we are seeing more and more examples of the best of humanity at work.

The majority of the work we do here at Saint Agatha is about helping the many organizations that spend their time helping the most vulnerable in our society. We work on learning the stories of these organizations and then figuring out the best way to tell them. The stories coming out of the covid-19 outbreak show us all that, despite all our flaws, people really do step up in times of need.