Warm temperatures have arrived, restaurants and bars are open for business, Americans are making plans to travel this summer and the scientists have given us a green light to reconnect with family and friends.
All these things and more have become a reality, but there is a certain amount of reticence that makes us just a bit skeptical that everything is really safe. This essay is about those things that everyone should keep in mind as the war on Covid comes to an end.
Probably the most prevalent thing we have done during the pandemic is wear masks. Just about everybody was masked for the last year or so. We really couldn’t go into any stores, businesses or schools without a mask that supposedly decreased the spread of the virus.
Now that medical advisers have said masks are not needed any longer, for the most part, are we going to give them up? What are the potential risks? Well, the experts are not sure if having Covid or being vaccinated means we will never contract the disease again. So, you should keep that in mind when you go to a crowded bar, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden or travel commercially on trains, buses, subways or airplanes.
Most Americans seem inclined to get vaccinated. But there are many people who are not convinced the vaccines are safe and effective. Some think it’s all a hoax. Some believe it’s a Big Brother ploy of a sort. Anyway, a percentage of Americans will not be vaccinated. Are they endangering the rest of us? If 20% of Americans do not agree to be inoculated, does the risk of a recurrent pandemic increase? And, if the world does not get vaccinated, are we in danger? Keep in mind many foreigners visit the US annually.
It’s interesting to think about the speed at which Americans will return to normalcy. Will you throw your masks away today, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year? Will you wear a mask in crowded places prospectively? Will you send your children back to school? With or without masks? Will the teachers teach them in person? There are a lot of decisions to be made about how we lead our lives post Covid.
The most informed analysts believe that the road back to normalcy is a long one, even if there is a lot of action now. For instance, if you wash your hands ten times each day during Covid, will you reduce down to five or six times? Will you wipe off the equipment at your gym before exercising? Will you continue to carry wipes to restaurants to sanitize your hands before eating? I suspect most people will continue to be somewhat diligent, although eating inside restaurants seems to be picking up steam.
Of course, there are other issues that must be considered. How about your place of work? Will everyone be vaccinated? Is it illegal to force people to be vaccinated? Will un-vaccinated people be required to wear a red “V” on their shirts? Can you be required to work near an un-vaccinated coworker? Will there still be limited numbers of people on elevators? Can companies demand every employee come to work at the office? Will companies be flexible about stay at home worker preferences?
And finally, there are the federal, state and local government leaders. Will they try to influence how we live or allow Americans to make up their own minds about how much risk they are willing to assume. Or will leaders issue mandates.
But most important, how do we avoid another pandemic that might kill us all? Are we spending enough on research relating to deadly viruses, as compared to research for cancer another types of diseases?
I recommend that scientists spend more time thinking about existential risks to mankind.