By Laetitia Clayton
Springtime’s arrival always makes me happy. The air is warmer, the sun seems to shine brighter, and the plants, trees and birds begin to stir. This year we also have the promise of the COVID-19 vaccines, which President Biden has said every adult in the U.S. will be eligible to receive by the end of May.
Older members of my family have already gotten their vaccinations, and I recently had my first shot. I hope this will allow us to enjoy some of the things we missed out on last year, like my dad’s birthday. We had to sing Happy Birthday to him online last July, while he otherwise celebrated a milestone birthday alone.
Other things we can look forward to are traveling, dining in restaurants, celebrating holidays with family and friends, and going to concerts, movies and museums.
While we await a return to normalcy, however, we cannot forget there are many people whose losses were far greater over the past year and they will take much longer to bounce back. Not only did COVID-19 claim the lives of more than 500,000 of us (so far), it also damaged our economy and left many unemployed, and, in some cases, homeless.
Some companies and smaller, local businesses closed for good, and children—and their parents—had to adjust to online learning. We watched news stories about our frontline medical workers completely burning out from caring for coronavirus patients while also worrying about themselves and their loved ones. Almost everyone has gone through some sort of trauma because of the pandemic.
Social workers across the profession have stepped up to address these issues and find solutions, just as they always have. One example of this can be found in this issue's Viewpoints column. Hospital social worker Jaclyn French describes how the pandemic affected her and her co-workers, as well as their patients, and how she helped them cope. She writes, “We cannot take the trauma of the last year away, but we can help others and ourselves better learn how to carry it.” Well said, Jaclyn.
There’s some uplifting news in our cover story, which examines how many of the Biden-Harris administration’s goals align with social work’s values—like racial, social and economic justice. A good start is Biden’s recent American Rescue Plan, which is expected to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.
In the Association News section, you can also read about the transition document NASW sent to the Biden administration and Congress, outlining top federal social policy priorities.
We do seem to be on the road to recovery. As we emerge from the chaos of the past 12 months, let’s make sure to take care of ourselves and others, enjoy spring, and get vaccinated when eligible.
Until next time,