The return to normal

I watched in horror through the weekend as protesters in various US states marched on their state capitals, demanding that governors open their states and reduce the isolation restrictions. I, like a lot of Canadians, would like to go back in time and enjoy all the pleasures that we enjoyed as families in previous Aprils.
But I am also afraid that if we return to a former normal too soon, that the consequences will be harsher than what exists today. Writer and philosopher George Santayana stated, “Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.” I read an article that showed the number of deaths attributed to the Spanish flu in 1918 and 1919 was between 1 – 2 million worldwide. The article went on to show that in 1920-21 in a rebound, the Spanish flu went on to kill an additional 20 million worldwide. I would not want to repeat that scenario in 2020 or future years.
In the US, 62 percent of the general population worry that opening states to the old normal too early will cause more harm.
People have died across the district not from the COVID-19 virus, but by other causes. Normally, we would visit families and offer our condolences and concerns. We would attend services remembering those persons and sharing with others over coffee and sandwiches our remembrances. It would be healing. We have read that over the weekend 18 persons were killed by a single individual in Nova Scotia. Yet in those communities, families cannot be supported by friends and relatives. Funerals will take place without people in attendance.
How long will this be the new normal?
Airlines today are often insisting that everyone boarding an aircraft wear a face mask. Middle seats are being removed to increase the separation between passengers. Will this become the new normal in travel? New York City has now ordered that all citizens leaving their homes wear face masks. Shopping at Safeway or Walmart, many of the shoppers today are wearing masks. Will this be the new future? Will we continue to line up outside the stores with controlled entry and clearly defined flow patterns be followed in the future?
Public health experts have been categorical: countries should not stop social distancing and self-isolation until they can conduct widespread testing for COVID-19.
Another key component is improved “contact tracing,” the practice of identifying infected Canadians and tracking back to others who they may have interacted with.
It’s unlikely governments will allow most citizens to be phased back to public life until those measures are in place and working. And both are areas where provincial and local health officials have struggled to keep up with the pace of the pandemic’s spread.
Returning to the old normal will be slow and frustrating. Health experts believe that we will only be safe when a vaccine is developed to protect us.
The best estimation is that developing the virus will take 12-18 months. In the meantime, we will have to continue practising social separation and self isolating.

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