Will We Ever go Back to Normal After Covid-19?
It was almost one year ago that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus as a pandemic.
At that time, the majority of the population had no way to predict the world-altering effects that the COVID-19 virus would have on each and every one of us. In the months following the initial cases, we experienced business and school closures, stay-at-home orders, remote work, empty grocery store shelves, and overwhelmed health care systems. In the midst of entire industries being put on pause, we all altered our daily lives to include face masks, curfews, social distancing, and entirely new ways of working and playing.
Though the nation came together to radically change almost everything we do (including working, exercising, socializing, shopping, and learning), it hasn’t been easy. The question on everyone’s mind is: When will things go back to normal? And the truth is, many things will never return to how they once were. At this transitional point in our history, a new normal will emerge.
But the vaccine is here - will that fix everything?
The answer to that question is a complex one. The way a vaccine works is by creating herd immunity - that is, reaching an environment whereby the general population is immune to a condition, even if every individual is not. The virus must essentially be surrounded by people who are vaccinated. Then it will have nowhere to go and outbreaks are ultimately suppressed. Our real goal is herd immunity, and that can be reached through a combination of vaccination and the natural spread of the virus.
Until herd immunity is reached, we should plan to continue the routines that have assisted us in our daily lives over the past several months. Things like continued social distancing and mask wearing are expected in the short term.
How can we live in this new world?
Though the world has lived through pandemics before, we have never before had such an ability to respond and adapt. Our ability to move forward will depend heavily on better health-care systems, including pandemic response units that can move quickly to contain outbreaks before they spread.
We can also expect compromises that allow us to retain some semblance of a normal life, such as more spacing in environments like restaurants and theaters. At the same time, we have developed more sophisticated methods of identifying who is a disease risk and who isn’t. We are already seeing hints of the types of technology that can help us to better manage the virus to a degree that will help us to be with other people again. For example, Israel is going to use cell phone location data to trace people who’ve been in touch with known carriers of the virus. Singapore does substantial contact tracing and then publishes detailed data on each known case (excluding identifying people by name).
It’s not hard to imagine changes such as having to be signed up to a service that tracks your movements in order to get on a plane or enter a large venue. According to the MIT Technology Review, savvy companies are introducing measures like temperature scanners or monitors for tracking vital signs and movement within the building. Whereas most people are used to showing ID to gain entry to certain things, in the future, venues may ask for proof of immunity. As we all wait to see what shape our new normal takes, we suggest a couple of approaches:
Accept the current reality - It’s important to absorb the fact that, for a time, this virus will continue to upend our daily lives. Try not to become preoccupied with “if only”, as wishing for what might be lost right now is futile and frustrating. CDC experts recommend embracing grief among the pandemic. Though you may have already mourned things like the loss of a job or special event, you can still experience similar thinking today and accept the situation and your feelings about it.
Adjust expectations and fantasies - Along with simply accepting current realities, you can try to adjust your overall expectations. New York University psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen told USA Today that it’s helpful to let go of fantasies that aren’t possible or healthy and focus on new ones that you can achieve. She suggests thinking about exactly what you’re missing in the pandemic. For example, those missing face-to-face gatherings likely miss social interaction. Travellers may be missing structured relaxation time, or adventure. Try to figure out ways to achieve those goals amidst our changed circumstances. In many cases, you might even discover something that can bring you joy, hiding right in front of you!
When can we start making plans again?
Probably not as quickly as most people would like. Several highly credentialed experts say that we need much higher vaccination percentages than we are projecting before we can do things like travel, socialize widely, or return to an office environment. Dr. Fauci has shared that how much these activities are encouraged depends on the uptake of the vaccine and the level of infection in the community. If only 50% of the population gets vaccinated, instead of the 70% goal for herd immunity, then it’s going to take longer to get back to the kind of normal that people were used to previously.
That being said, new developments are being made every day. Normalcy as we once knew it may be a distant dream, but there is plenty of hope. New innovations allow us to be together safely and live a life that reflects a new - though somewhat different - normal.
As businesses reopen or maintain operations during COVID-19, modernized measures will need to be taken according to recommendations from health experts. Safeteams is at the forefront of today’s safest and healthiest workplaces. Our technology minimizes the risk of contagion through data-driven contact tracing. Learn more on how contact tracing can improve your workers safety by reviewing the article on the top 7 benefits of contact tracing.