By Richard Davis
Life with COVID has been difficult, but humans are a flexible species and we have adapted fairly well to the new normal. There will always be those who do not possess a shred of common sense or decency and thankfully the leader of that group has lost most of his power. The yahoos will persist and the rest of us have to keep as much distance as possible from them.
Thankfully, they are the minority and preventing disease transmission has become part of the daily routine for the majority. That is why we will eventually see a day when other things take priority. The big question is, “When will that day come, if ever?”.
I am trying to imagine what the world will be like a year from now. It is an activity that is all guesswork but it is something that helps to provide some hope for a more active and open society. I think it will take close to a year before there are any significant changes in life as we now know it.
President Biden has made a guarded prediction that life will get back to a new normal by December of this year. His optimism is helpful but I think his timeline is too short. Life will not magically change over the next 12 months or so but there will be small changes along the way and that means that society will slowly evolve into a new state.
We will never go back to life the way it was prior to COVID because COVID will never go away. It will continue to be a threat unless science is able to make a major leap in the technology of disease prevention.
COVID has given most of us an education in virology and immunology and it is surely more information than we would have sought out on these subjects if our lives did not depend on this knowledge. Vaccines, masks, social distancing and persistent hygiene will always be the best defenses against disease.
As we move ahead with vaccination and develop some degree of herd immunity will there ever be a time when wearing masks is not a good thing to do? I envision a time when most people stop wearing masks but when a fair number of people still wear them in public if they have weakened immune systems or if they are in an area that continues to have a high prevalence of COVID or other transmissible diseases. Masks are one genie that will never completely go back in the bottle.
Restaurants will slowly move back to having more people dining and sitting at bars but the more responsible establishments will continue to put a little more distance between patrons. It is the best they can do to promote a new life for all of us and if they can find a balance between providing space and maintaining financial viability, life will move in a better direction.
Schools will eventually go back to full in-person learning but it will happen gradually. Students may have to maintain more distance indefinitely but I believe that schools will be able to provide a pre-pandemic type of education as long as all of those involved in education remain vigilant to the constant threat of disease.
Travel may go back to higher levels quicker than other forms of commerce not because it is safer but because people feel the need to get away after suffering through a pandemic lockdown. With more travel comes a return to tourism and higher levels of commerce that support all of those activities. They all need to be done within a context of disease transmission and prevention. We can do that without a lockdown but it requires a level of vigilance we are only now beginning to appreciate.
There are many other areas of our lives that will slowly revitalize over the next months and years but if we are to move ahead without having to jump backwards we will have to always be mindful of the lessons we have learned about virology and immunology and put them into practice when necessary. That will be the best we can do in order to have post-COVID lives.