Despite the resurgence of COVID-19, the response of the Trinidad & Tobago government was internationally recognised as effective, and while the COVID war won't be won without a vaccine, our government's initial battle strategy was sound.
Imagine if the government treated the economic and social issues we face with the same degree of urgency that it gave to the coronavirus.
Using the COVID-19 playbook our country's management would be:Bold & Decisive
Shutting down a country is nothing else if not bold, and it was the large-scale, scary, big and hairy decision we needed. Weaning us off fossil fuel reliance and diversifying our economy, will require bold and decisive action as well. Timely
The Titanic changed course and slowed down but not in time, and that's a mistake our government did not make in their initial COVID-19 response. The actions taken were done when they were needed. Like action to avert climate change, action to achieve diversification is time sensitive. There comes a point when the action is too late to avoid great social and economic hardship during the transition.Science-based
It's easy to say that looking to science was obvious, but science—as our friends to the North demonstrated—can be disregarded in favour of politics and ego. Our leaders respected the experts.
We have enough local experience and expertise to solve our economic and social ills, our government just needs to utilise them.
In Constant & Frequent communication
The leadership of the COVID responsible agencies were front and centre with frequent, sometimes even daily updates, and this reigned in our imaginations, helped to quell rumour, and shared helpful information. Agree or disagree, everyone knew what the government was seeing and intending.
For our non-COVID challenges, why not have every ministry giving frequent and LIVE updates on their progress towards an already communicated plan?
Managing our mood
Managing the mood of those you lead is the most important thing a leader can do, and the first round of COVID updates helped to manage our mood away from despair and towards hope. Even if you think the government failed in this, they did try, and going forward this is what matters.
Our government must make us feel that we can do it, that one day soon, anyone can be enjoying the view from Laventille, eating at renowned restaurants and staying at guest homes owned by former gang members; with the story of violence and crime the subject only of movies made by our burgeoning Triniwood industry. (OK that name may need some work.)
For this to happen though, our government needs to acknowledge one fundamental truth: Even without this pandemic, Trinidad & Tobago is in a COVID-like existential crisis. Our prime minister, would do well to acknowledge this and set up the same COVID-like action and communication structure to deal with it.