The Norm

Say it with me…

“NORMMMMM!”

Every episode of Cheers, Norm walked in and was greeted by the gang. It’s what he did everyday, come to the bar to have a beer and shoot the shit. Norm would hate COVID!

The thing about COVID is that the best way to move past the emotional and social difficulties it causes, sitting at home during the summer, school closings, no bars or restaurants, limited gatherings, no graduations or proms, and a lack of rubbing alcohol… of ALL things rubbing alcohol, is to get used to the premise that there will no longer be a norm as we knew it. A new normal will the established, as the transmission rates and death toll this virus has claimed has barred Americans from traveling to most countries in the world, closed businesses for good, and left a nation of millions wondering where we go from here. Well I can tell you what, it won’t look like anything we’ve seen since Europeans arrived to the “New World”… This my friends is the real New World without the pillaging and stealing and lies. The only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace.

“It’s unbelievable…”

As of today the most similar pandemic to COVID is the Spanish flu which was a deadly strain of influenza. It killed over 20-50 million globally and over 600,000 in the US from 1918-1919. Businesses shut down, schools closed, people were asked to stay home, the government issued living and food subsidies, folks had to wear masks and limit gatherings. No vaccine was ever found but eventually through death or immunity the spread stopped in 1919. Strict adherence to guidelines helped mitigate more transmission and death. I’ll repeat STRICT adherence to guidelines helped mitigate transmissions. But we are hardheaded and wanna complain about masks… MJ wore a mask just walking down the street, you can too! Certainly you don’t think you are better than the King of Pop! But whatever…

So as we enter what I think will be the second wave, we need to start wrapping our pretty little heads around this if we want a birthday party in 2021. And as much as I love leggings, I got dresses that require mimosas, girlfriends, and fancy brioche French toast. So we have to start envisioning what changes might be forever factors. Like tuberculosis outbreaks changed the way we interact… personal space became a real issue and germaphobes were born… this will change how we go about the world.

Sure, restaurants will reopen, but likely with stricter requirements for cleaning, especially things like flatware and glassware that people reuse. Kids will go back to school, but perhaps with some online requirements, smaller classes, shorter days over time to allow for proper disinfecting and just less time spent in crowded rooms. Many jobs will become primarily work from home, which was something that was already happening, and likely the easiest transition we faced during COVID. More on that in a sec. Places may install hand sanitizing or hand washing stations. Some people with certain immunodeficiencies will wear masks and other protective gear when they leave the home. People will utilize food and grocery delivery much more often, so much so the milk and vegetable trucks of old may resurface. People will limit their physical interaction and proximity to strangers.

On a larger scale I think some really very complex changes will happen.

1. America’s position globally will look much different, as we have the highest cases and likely the worse policy on how to mitigate this pandemic. We are banned from most countries y’all… Americans!!! That’s wild AF!

2. In terms of national security, doctors, researchers, teachers, front lines workers will join the ranks of military and elected officials as imperative to our safety as a nation… and hopefully ensure all are paid a wage commensurate with their job responsibilities.

3. An increase in community versus individualism, as this pandemic literally puts all of us at the mercy of the people we share space with… neighbors, co-workers, teachers, etc.

4. Heightened respect for education and experience. Two words: Dr. Fauci. Google has made everyone an armchair expert. Nope and more nope. While Fauci hasn’t been perfect under the pressure of the administration, his expertise had highlighted how important it is to receive specialized information from specialized sources. Leave the politics to the politicians… and that’s it.

5. A huge change in how we use digital and online platforms. As we have meetings and parties in Zoom, online seminars and classes, CGI based fashion shows, Instagram concerts, telehealth doctors appointments, etc. increased access to the internet will be needed as there will surely be increased usage. I believe the way our digital lives will change will be the greatest impact of COVID. It will change how we stay healthy, communicate, work, socialize, party, share information, and share our lives.

6. Less differentiation between home and work life. As we work more from home, work hours mesh with home and family time. On average people teleworking work longer hours and later into the day. This lack of boundaries between home and work life will need to be managed to ensure we are giving as much time and energy to our families as our coworkers.

7. Lastly I don’t think government will ever be the same. The need for some universally provided healthcare is at an all time high, including mandates about pharmaceuticals and companies that research and create testing. The unequal availability of testing was one huge failure and to ensure these issues never happen again, some Central agency will need to coordinate such activities moving forward. Additionally, with the need for big government we’ll likely see a lot of economic changes in the horizon to ensure people are financially able to afford the basic necessities and become productive in the economy. These changes will likely be met without much dissension as surely overtime a new trust in government will come as these necessary changes take place.

Not worse, just different.

And you’ll establish a new set of physical and social patterns, and yes… clink glasses again with the brunch ladies or the game time fellas… your new norm!

“All we wanna know is where the party at?”

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