The United States is reopening — whether you like it or not.
As states lift stay-at-home orders and encourage businesses to once again open their doors to the public, health officials are warning the nation is still sorely lacking in its testing and tracing capabilities. A second, deadlier wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak could strike the US even harder in the fall, experts have said, as there are few measures currently in place to prevent Covid-19 from becoming endemic within the country again.
More than one million people living in the US have contracted Covid-19, and over 60,000 people have died due to complications resulting from the disease. Analysts are now raising their estimates for the national death toll, citing “flatter and thus longer epidemic peaks” in various states like New York, which found itself at the heart of the crisis as it unfolded nationwide.
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Donald Trump is even beginning to admit that more people will die from the virus than he previously acknowledged — even as he continues insisting the country “reopen” sooner before later, and celebrating states like Texas as they open up businesses to the public.
The country’s own health agencies are imploring states to remain locked down until they record a significant drop in cases, combined with new initiatives to expand testing abilities. Still, the US appears set to reopen in the midst of the pandemic, with questions swirling over how those vulnerable to the deadly virus can be safe as society returns to some form of normalcy.
What might that new normal look like? What can Americans expect from their state and federal governments, as well as local businesses, as they seek to reopen the country? How might their lives be impacted for decades to come due to this unprecedented moment? The Independent asked these questions and more to experts in different aspects of human interaction to get a sense of what the “new normal” will be like in a post-pandemic American society.
Post-Pandemic Parallels to 9/11
“We’ve all been trying to envision what our world may look like” after the pandemic, said Dr Saralyn Mark, an endocrinologist and the first senior medical adviser to the Office on Women’s Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services. “We adapt, we evolve and we respond. As a society, I believe we’ll all do that.”
Dr Mark, who spent time in Asia after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, predicted that the US will likely take on many of the same measures societies in China and other Asian countries adopted in the wake of the deadly virus.
“Everyone began wearing face masks, especially when they were immune compromised,” she said, adding that masks were initially a “very strange” concept for people throughout Asia. The practice of wearing a face mask when sick or during seasonal outbreaks has since become commonplace in many crowded cities and suburbs across Asia, Dr Mark noted.
“Now, we’re all adapting to this new normal of seeing people walk their dogs with face masks — it’s already becoming our new normal,” she said. “I don’t see that going away anytime soon.”
Dr Mark compared the idea of wearing face masks for years to come to the “new normal” the US experienced in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
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