What’s normal with COVID-19? Nothing!”— Anthony T. Hincks
I’VE SEEN LOTS OF PEOPLE talk about “the new normal” that we’re now living in, but the pandemic has shown us that there’s no longer any such thing as “normal”. To survive and thrive in the middle of a pandemic, we need to completely change almost every aspect of our lives, from how we work and play to how we eat, exercise and socialize.
The problem is that as long as there’s someone in the world who’s infected with the disease, breakouts will keep happening. One way to tackle them is to keep moving the guidelines, easing lockdowns when we can and reinstating them as needed. Explaining this approach while writing for Technology Review, Gideon Lichfield said, “Each time they rise above a threshold — say, 100 per week — the country would close all schools and most universities and adopt social distancing. When they drop below 50, those measures would be lifted, but people with symptoms or whose family members have symptoms would still be confined at home.”
Of course, one thing to point out here is that social distancing itself is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Countries won’t need to adopt social distancing because we’ll already be doing it. Instead, it’s a case of locking down sectors of society and calling for mass self-isolation. Lichfield says, “Under this model, the researchers conclude, social distancing and school closures would need to be enforced some two-thirds of the time — roughly two months on and one month off —even while the vaccine is made readily available to the masses. Researchers also found that without the entire population participating in social distancing, there would be a surge of patients eight times larger than either the US or the UK healthcare systems could handle. And even if we were able to retool our factories and to refurbish public spaces to provide enough beds and ventilators, we wouldn’t have enough nurses. The research model also found that if full social distancing measures were sustained for five months and then lifted, the pandemic would come back.