LIFE AFTER THE VIRUS
PART 4: THE NEW NORMAL (WHATEVER THAT WILL BE)
BY JUDY PARIS, RN, BSN, MSN
I have been thinking a lot about what our
lives will be like after the worst is over. I
decided to do some research to see what
others are saying. I found that it is a big topic
of discussion with many people weighing in.
I chose to discuss the areas that I see as both
realistic and that agree with my values of what
will be important in this new way of living.
There are a number of possible futures, all
dependent on how governments and society
respond to coronavirus and its economic
aftermath. Hopefully, we will use this crisis to
rebuild, produce something better and more
As the world slowly switches to a more
cautious way of living, many Governments
are advising residents to maintain some of
the COVID-19 preventative measures. These
include the wearing of facemasks in public,
maintaining social distancing, maintaining
proper hand and cough/sneeze hygiene, stay-ing
at home when unwell, and getting tested if
showing respiratory symptoms or a fever.
NBC NEWS JUNE 2020: Safe social distanc-ing
As nations around the world loosen coronavi-rus
may be about saving us physically, but it’s
restrictions, people are discovering that the
taking a toll psychologically. Experts say the
return to normal is anything but. Schools, offic-es,
new normal of no hugs and no handshakes
public transportation, bars, and restaurants
is likely to linger long after the coronavirus is
are now on the front lines of post-lockdown
conquered. We will never see physical touch
July life — back in business, in many cases, but not
the same way again. After this pandemic, some
business as usual.
gestures like shaking or holding hands will
How each manages social distancing and
somehow be reserved to people close to us.
¢reduces expected new outbreaks will determine
Due to the deadly pandemic, individuals have
COURIER the shape of daily life as researchers race to
become more aware of the importance of having
develop a vaccine that is still probably months,
a healthy lifestyle and proper hygiene. It may
if not years, away from being available to all.
become mandatory to sanitize hands and check
TOWERS THE GUARDIAN MAY 2020: There is a lot
temperature before boarding public vehicles or
of talk about getting back to normal after the
entering public places.
Covid-19 crisis is over. And yet normal is what
has made our planet and societies vulnera-ble
ASSOCIATION MAY 2020: It’s no surprise that
SHORE to crises in the first place. ‘Normal’ meant
the COVID-19 pandemic is triggering a mental
cutting down huge swathes of forest to plant
health crisis in America. Physical distancing,
crops, overgrazing livestock, destroying natural
shelter-in-place orders, business and school
NORTH ecosystems at the expense of habitats for wild
closures and widespread job loss not seen since
animals. Normal is what drives climate change.
the Great Depression have radically changed
JAMA May 2020: For now, motor vehicle
our way of life. In a Kaiser Family Foundation
crashes have plummeted. The temporary effects
poll, 45% of American adults reported that their 8 of the pandemic on carbon emissions and pol-lution
are large and instructive. The planet is,
by that measure, healthier. For the first time
in decades, people in Kathmandu can see the
tallest Himalayas through clean air with their
naked eyes. Will the smog simply return? Some
favorable effects will quickly disappear unless
policies are established and practices change
Fate will not create the new normal; choic-es
will. Will science and fact gain the high
ground in guiding resources and behaviors?
Will compassion and respect be restored for
all, including a guarantee of decent livelihoods
and security for everyone? Will society take a
break from its obsessive focus on near-term
gratification to prepare for threats ahead?
PROTECTING THE WORKFORCE:
Attention to health care worker safety has
languished for decades. Now it is evident how
unwise that is, as millions of workers face per-sonal
risks that they would not encounter if
protective equipment and preparatory proce-dures
had been arranged in advance. Without a
physically and psychologically safe and healthy
workforce, excellent health care is not possible.
VIRTUAL CARE: Medical care still mostly
relies on personal encounters. COVID-19
has shown many clinical visits as unnecessary.
Telemedicine has surged; social proximity seems
possible without physical proximity. Progress
over the past 2 decades has been painfully slow
toward regularizing virtual care, self-care at
home, and other web-based assets. The virus
has quickly changed that.
Virtual care would release face-to-face time
in clinical practice to be used for the patients
who truly benefit from it.
Since those with pre-existing conditions are
vulnerable to COVID-19, hospitals and clin-ics
are ramping up their digital consultation
platforms to attend to patients, especially for
follow-up checkups and non-urgent cases.
PREPARDNESS FOR THREATS: As
virtual care has lagged, so has preparedness
for 21st-century threats. The foundations of
preparedness, most crucially a robust public
health system, have been allowed to erode or
have never been laid in the first place.
INEQUALITY: Perhaps the most notable
wake-up call. Anyone who studies the toll of
vast inequality, in either the US or the world
at large, could have predicted those dispropor-tionate
deaths. The most consequential question
in the new normal for the future of the US and
global health is this: Will leaders and the public
now commit to a firm, generous, and durable
social and economic safety net? This virus
awaits an answer. So will the next one.