Nothing good can come of a pandemic. Lessons? Positives? Maybe, by stretching the concept.

For example, the virus has accelerated the prominence of diversity among medical professionals.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta opened the door nearly 20 years ago, as a CNN commentator. Dr. Vivek Murthy served as surgeon general under President Obama, and has since been recalled by President Biden. In the past two years, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Black physicians appeared regularly on network and cable news. I smell a mandate — an affirming one. Ditto women doctors/public health professionals. Best of all: a bevy of female diversity physicians and scientists.

You go, girls!

Not even an election better illustrates the “power of the press,” including other than print media — a force in this life-or-death situation. Audiences don’t seem to realize that laws exist to protect them from false advertising, but nothing constrains the promulgation of falsehoods justified, loosely, as “free speech.” If not for fact-checkers, lies spewing from politicians and their lackeys would stand unchallenged. Only problem: Few stay tuned for the fact-checkers’ corrections.

The pandemic gives new meanings to old expressions. Example: Spreading like wildfire. In a summer when wildfires burn through the West, COVID-19 variants — both extant and predicted — claim the same cliché. The irony here is everybody approves of fighting wildfires that destroy homes. But checking the spread of the pandemic, not so commended. I guess some people would rather save their homes than their lives and those of parents, siblings, children and friends.

Before the vaccine, “A pox upon you” wished disfiguring smallpox on enemies. The curse carried weight, since prevention and treatment didn’t exist. Now prevention not only exists, but smallpox vaccinations are mandated by most public schools.

As for “No atheists in foxholes,” kudos to the media for morphing this WWII banner into “No anti-vaxxers in ICUs.” TV reporters find and record images of the desperately ill begging, too late, for the vaccine while, with dying gasps, advising others to take it.

I haven’t mentioned cost. While the vaccine is free, the ICU is not. Treatment can cost millions per person. Limited insurance? Sorry.

Hardly good, but revealing: COVID-19 has exposed frightening and seemingly non-wavering segments who live to rouse the rabble. Some fuss about effectiveness, others about side effects. They shore up arguments with palaver. The most dangerous ones are following demagogues on missions to what? Kill off their constituents?

Shamefully, many of the unvaccinated sufferers, now including children, live in Southern states. Predictably, some wear red baseball caps screaming MAGA.

One productive result of this cataclysm may be convincing the 7.9 billion people who inhabit six of the seven continents that viruses don’t recognize race, religion or residence. Stupidity is their best buddy. Too strong a word? Have you been listening to Congress, podcasters, MDs and TV newsies, lately?

However, COVID-19 can be halted — or at least slowed — by funding and education, via free vaccinations aggressively pursued worldwide, while convincing local knuckleheads (like that word better?) to take the needle.

That would be good. With another wave of virus on the horizon, right about now we could use some good.

Contact Deborah Salomon at

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