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Exploring the Effects of COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to ravage Tarrant County and the greater United States, the lack of a unified response has made it imperative to clearly identify a how the pandemic is affecting our local communities. The first round of vaccines started their distribution since the starting this post. Although this will alleviate some of the concerns associated with COVID-19, CoAct identifies that the indirect challenges will require extensive research to identify and execute solutions that will guide us to our new normal.

In November, we facilitated a Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ). This is an effective and intimate tool to identify problems, create action statements, and propose solutions to take further action on. For the LDJ, we reached out to a wide base of volunteers, organizers, students, and stakeholders to create a team of 9 people split between two separate, 2-hour sessions.

The sessions were hosted using a cocktail of digital resources. Using Mozilla Hubs we created a new, custom virtual space specifically made for the event. The LDJ itself took place on Miro, a virtual whiteboard designed for hosting collaborations and workshops. Both are unique responses to the current constraint of working from home. With the goal in mind, we set out to identify how COVID-19 is affecting our local communities, identify gaps in resources, and discover possible solutions that CoAct can direct it’s focus towards.

Participants congregated on Mozilla Hubs to become familiar with the challenge, the questions we were looking to answer, and how COVID-19 has affected workers. It gave us a familiar taste of meeting in person, as participants where able to engage in conversations and explore the space we created prior to kicking off the session. We started by exploring the positives that COVID-19 has brought including improved cleanliness, discovering new hobbies, gaining more time with family, building a home gym, and the resulting experiments using Mozilla Hubs. We briefly discussed each of these positive aspects before shifting our focus to explore the negative effects of COVID-19.

Loss of income, digital divide, increased stress, less personal time, lack of information, and emotional exhaustion were just a few of the problems identified. Using a ranking system and then creating actionable statements called “How Might We’s” (HMWs), participants then created solutions for each of these problems. Examples included creating a safe funeral protocols, creating opportunities to get sunlight, and creating opportunities for personal time.

Together, with our participants, we prioritized solutions, identified the effort required to implement, and projected the impact each solution could make. As we sorted each solution, we identified which projects we do now, next, and later.

A few shared trends from both sessions included creating solutions to address the increased anxieties, eliminate the bias of infection, and combat the abundance of misinformation. Some topics we discussed in detail included the prospect of creating a safe space, and what the term safe actually means. Is there a certification process to designate this term and how do we create something that feels safe for everyone? Are our current funeral arrangements a good norm to continue? They are costly endeavor for any family and performed primarily to appease religious and personal beliefs. Bias interesting has a huge effect on people’s willingness to share if they have been infected or exposed to COVID-19. This is further reinforced when it effects a person’s ability to earn income.

There is much left to explore on this topic. As we say farewell to 2020, we plan to dive deeper into the solutions we discovered and the nitty details of this topic in quarterly sessions starting January 7th. Our aim is to hone the ideas collected and identify specific parameters that will aid in developing viable concepts. Together, we can identify a community response to COVID-19 to create a safe, inclusive, and creative Tarrant County.

Register for the next Discovery Session

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