Graphic by Maya Johnson
With high vaccination numbers and the recent reopening of country borders, many American citizens have begun to wonder if life is finally returning to “normal”– or at least life before the pandemic. As businesses uphold their mask mandates and stay-at-home policies, however, we have to wonder if things will ever return to the way they once were. Will Zoom meetings and social distancing turn into another wild story from our youth, or are we going to end up passing out masks to our grandchildren?
The short answer is that no, there will be no ‘official’ end to the pandemic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is unlikely to ever issue an “all clear” to resume life as it was before, but that doesn’t mean that we will never fall into a new “normal.”
Thinking back to past tragedies, almost anyone can notice a pattern–nothing ever stays the same afterward. However, I’m not one to say that this isn’t for good reason. The attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001, left the country devastated, but also introduced a new system of safety protocols to ensure that nothing like that would ever happen again.
In another case of American travesty, the bombing of Pearl Harbor not only left the nation in ruins but also introduced a new sense of patriotism. Learning from our downfalls is what allows our country to recuperate and ensure that we take the right steps for a safer and stronger future.
Following the Coronavirus pandemic, these changes might include more leniency with sick days, or stricter work-from-home policies. Already, major companies such as Adobe, Verizon, Facebook, and Microsoft are instating policies that will allow their employees to work from home up to 50% of the time. In my personal experience, my coworkers at the county library have discovered new ways to deliver books that they will continue to use outside of the pandemic. The overwhelming success that came from this new plan would not have been discovered if the library was not forced to get creative, a direct result of the pandemic. Being forced to cope with unprecedented times has allowed our community to get creative and find new solutions; solutions that will undoubtedly carry over to our future.
Although we are likely to experience changes, don’t expect to miss the return of maskless workdays and large family gatherings. Precautions will not always be this drastic, and society will eventually settle into a new flow. The most important thing to remember is that we will come out of this pandemic as different people than we were before. However, what we’ve learned can only help us build better lives for ourselves and our communities.