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Clay Jenkinson, Governing’s editor-at-large and humanities scholar specializing in Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt, helps to provide a historical context to this spread of this coronavirus and provides hope for what is to come.

He understands that everyone is scared of what might happen in the coming weeks and months of this pandemic, but he also knows that the humanities provide us with reassurance that there is never an experience, even global pandemic, that is happening for the first time. Through the studying and reading of humans’ pandemic pasts, Jenkinson has grown to trust that “the human spirit is so extraordinary that it rises to effervescence even in moments like these.”

Jenkinson offers books that might provide solace for social distancing, viral spread and a community’s plans for containment; he describes how current government officials can find inspiration for strong leadership, bold actions, science-based serenity and an optimistic faith in the American people through the study of Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson among others; and he believes that some of the best methods of combating COVID-19 are support, tolerance and positivity.

Jenkinson steps In the Arena to discuss pandemic history, that literature can teach leaders how to respond to crises like this, and how life offers more good things than bad.

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