Written By Yoni Manor
One common question I have heard throughout this quarantine is when will things go back to “normal”? It’s an important question to ask, but is it the right one? Governments across the globe are scrambling to contain the coronavirus in their countries, trying to flatten the curve of infection, but barely anybody has discussed their exit strategies. Israel is one of the few countries that have laid out a step-by-step plan on how they expect to overcome this pandemic and reinvigorate their economy. Israeli officials are still debating their options, but they have been taking this pandemic very seriously, more so than almost any other country. Israel was ranked the number one safest country in the world in coronavirus health by Deep Knowledge Group, as they have been able to keep their mortality rate significantly lower than the world average and have been using innovative technology to track infected coronavirus patients and keep them on lockdown. Israel’s tentative plan consists of opening public institutions and gatherings gradually over time.
That is just one possible example of how and when life could return to “normal”. But there is another issue at hand: will life ever return to normal again? The answer is no. People expect this virus to reach its peak soon and be over within a couple of months, but that is just simply not the case. This pandemic has been a warning to the world that the human race very much needed. This is not just a wake-up call for fighting against viruses and maintaining hygiene, this is a wake-up call especially for Americans who are not living a healthy lifestyle. Obesity is the number one factor leading to coronavirus deaths in New York City, and it is a fact that people who are less healthy overall are more susceptible to the virus. This is a sign for us humans to be healthier and to treat our bodies better, so that our immune systems can better fight the diseases mother nature throws at us. When the peak of this virus is behind us we must not forget that it happened, because another natural virus will come to strike.
The Spanish Flu of 1917 killed 50 – 100 million people. Luckily, the virus we are dealing with today is much less deadly, however, viruses can mutate and become even deadlier and more vaccine-resistant. Scientists and experts have stated that they are much more concerned about the next naturally-formed disease or virus than any man-made biological weapon. Mother nature is a beautiful thing, but it is also very deadly. The point is, whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about the coronavirus timeline, life will not be the same. The economy may open back up in June, which would be great and well-needed, but it is only speculation. People thought in March that this pandemic could be over by Easter, like President Trump hoped for, but these were highly unrealistic expectations if you are prioritizing public health.
The Trump administration recently came out with an exit strategy that included multiple phases to gradually return American life to normalcy. I think this plan is premature, as it may risk a resurgence in cases in the United States. This is why I predict the American economy will open up again around June, but this doesn’t mean things will go back to normal. A vaccine for the coronavirus will take 12-18 months to formulate and test, meaning we are not out of the clear once the rate of infection flattens. Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health director and a leading coronavirus public health expert, says that Americans should never shake hands again. In an interview he did weeks later after his statement, he continued to support his statement, but said that in the future, when people don’t have any memories of this epidemic, they will act the way things always were, and the human race will once again learn their lesson. This is a sad but most likely true scenario. People tend to not learn from history, making them doomed to repeat it.
We now see in the month of May countries loosening social distancing restrictions and some facets of the economy are starting to return to their normal operations. For instance, Israel reopened their public schools the week of May 4. Here in the United States, schools are still closed for the academic year, but many states have now lifted their stay at home orders. These are good signs, but also potentially dangerous. Medical experts fear that there will be a resurgence of the virus this upcoming winter, which would be a devastating blow to nations just recovering from the effects of the virus. All hope in this situation is premature. Life will not be the same even after this actual pandemic is behind us.