“Life will never be the same again.” We hear this over and over again with regard to the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on us, even though we’re only weeks into the pandemic. Is that true, though? Won’t most of us “regress to the mean,” as it’s sometimes phrased, as we move forward and get this crisis in our rearview mirror? I think we will, more or less, and I think we need to remember that.
We’re facing a severe crisis right now with tremendous effects on life, public health, and the economy, and many things will change. Some of these changes will be for the worse; that much is certain. Some will be for the better, though, and getting through this thing requires remembering that and leaning into what makes it possible. We have to recognize how early into this crisis we are and remember how innovative we can be, and all of us are going to have to step outside of our comfort zones a little to get through this as we start figuring it out together.
So, we need to understand what it will take to get life more or less back to normal on the far side of Covid-19. As a pandemic of this kind in a world like we have now—globally connected, unfortunately underprepared, and significantly online—is uncharted territory, it isn’t entirely clear what we should do now. Should we stay home? (Yes.) Should we go back to work? (Not until widespread testing is available.) These are big, hard questions for many of us. Getting them entirely right may not be possible, but there are ways we can get them wrong that we need to be aware of.
Now is a time for us to get less political and trust qualified experts more, for one thing, and it’s a time for us to reflect upon how having been so partisan for so long has blinded us to the fact that objective truth matters. Since I’m not an expert in medicine, epidemiology, or infectious disease, these are the kinds of things I want to help people understand and remember as we walk even further into this new unknown. Changes will have to be made, and yet, most of all, I hope we can remember that, if we come together and don’t overreact and overturn the table in panic and partisanship, we can and will get through this and then life on the other side will, in fact, go back in many ways to being the same again.