COVID: When will life return to normal?
An uncertain spring, an amazing summer, a cautious fall and winter, and then, finally, relief
We all want to know when we’re going to get back to something that resembles life before COVID? “The end of the coronavirus pandemic is on the horizon at last, but the timeline for actually getting there feels like it shifts daily, with updates about viral variants, vaccine logistics, and other important variables seeming to push back the finish line or scoot it forward. When will we be able to finally live our lives again?”
“Here, in more detail, is what Americans can expect daily life to look like for the next four(-ish) seasons.” Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic The Most Likely Timeline for Life to Return to Normal
For the most part, daily life will continue to be far from normal for the next few months. Normal is of course a slippery word, given that many Americans have had to report to work or have chosen to dine out, travel, and do all sorts of things that others have avoided. But whatever people have not been doing for the past year, they can expect to keep not doing it this spring.
Whatever happens in the spring, the summer should be a sublime departure from what Americans have lived through so far. As my colleague James Hamblin wrote last week, “In most of the U.S., the summer could feel … ‘normal,’” even “revelatory.”
Even if the summer feels like the end of the pandemic, it could turn out to be more of a temporary reprieve.
Most of the U.S. population should be vaccinated by the fall, but some resurgence of the virus seems likely in the colder months. “It won’t be as bad as this winter, but I don’t know if it’s going to be pretty bad or if just a few people will get it,” Noymer said.
Beyond next winter, experts’ predictions are blessedly simple: Life in the warmer months of 2022 should be normal, or at least whatever qualifies as normal post-pandemic. The virus will still exist, but one possibility is that it will be less likely to make people severely ill and that it will, like the flu, circulate primarily in the colder months; some people would still die from COVID-19, but the virus wouldn’t rage out of control again. Meanwhile, Americans should be able to do most, if not all, of the things that they missed so much in 2020 and 2021, mask- and worry-free.
I shared this to give us all a little hope….