Is our New Normal permanent?

One of my friends is an optimist.

No, really.

He’s also moderately liberal, but hates Hillary Clinton almost as much as he hates Donald J. Trump, and thinks her endorsement actually hurts Joe Biden.

I don’t because she is still very popular among white, female Democrats, who feel she was somehow cheated. 

Anyway, this has nothing to do with today’s topic, which is the worst case scenario.

I am not normally an optimist. Realism is more my speed and realism does not = optimism. Too many things can go wrong, but I will say again what I have said before: I believe medicines to prevent or cure COVID-19 will come sooner than current predictions, such as 12-18 months for a preventative vaccine.

My friend, I’m calling him Thomas, for Doubting Thomas, says not only will there not be a medical cure anytime soon, he says the current pandemic will not abate at all, that it will remain at current levels of infection and mortality for about two years, and he said that before a University of Minnesota report said the same thing.

In other words, the Great Isolation and wearing masks are the New Normal, and it is permanent. “The life we are about to enter is going to be very different,” he says. 

He knows something about restaurants and says they won’t be back to normal for two years. Many cook and service teams have been scattered to the wind. The cost of daily disinfection will dramatically raise operating costs. That plus fewer seats for greater spacing will result in higher prices.

As states and cities are opening up, he says 90% of people will wear masks and observe social distances, but the 10% who do not will negate the efforts of the 90%. “There is a possibility the virus will never go away,” he worries, “because we will never do everything we must do to get rid of it.”

I ask him how about enforcement by police?

He grimaces. Did I mention he is a liberal? He talks about summonses as high as $1,000, but he doesn’t want the tickets to be served and doesn’t want offenders jailed. The liberal dilemma.

Through lack of enforcement, we give the lawless minority power over the lawful majority. Are you happy with that?

The New Normal touches every aspect of our lives. And our deaths. The death rate has levelled off, but at a high level. Will we adapt to, and accept, losing several thousands of Americans each day, the price we pay in World War III?

Many of us will continue to work from home, a blessing for some, a curse for others. Those who work from the office are likely to see their work spaces redesigned, expanded to increase distance between employees. Expect hand sanitizers everywhere and perhaps masks. Be prepared for service personnel in masks and gowns and customers having their temperature taken at the front door. 

With fewer people coming into Center City to work, ridership on Septa will be down and greatly reduced schedules will continue, putting more commuters into their cars.

Fewer people in Center City will result in the loss of many of the retailers found on the main shopping arteries of Market, Walnut, Chestnut.

Happy Hours will be Unhappy Hours and fewer people will stay in the city after dark, hurting restaurants, bars, and night clubs. Philly will look like it did in the ‘50s. The suburbs will be worse as malls close.

This is Thomas’ nightmare, which I do not share.

But, it is possible. 

13 thoughts on “Is our New Normal permanent?”

    Unlike you, I am an optimist, with a touch of realism thrown in. This unique disease, possibly for the first time, has the private sector actually working with the government !
    We will beat this virus. It may take some time to come back 100 %, but together, we will.

  2. Stu,

    Sadly, your friend the realist, is probably accurate.
    “Normal” will have a new meaning, unfortunately.

    Stay well

  3. I hate blanket labels, as realism, optimism, apathy, etc. are shared by the entire human race. I suppose I would fall under “liberal,” so how about this? Everybody take responsibility for their health. Immune systems WORK if people stop smoking, overeating, and not choosing to be slugs and sloths over taking moderate exercise. We are in the process of fact-finding, and what may have been true or false four weeks ago has been revised according to new information. As we figure out the most at-risk categories, measures will be put into place to protect them. I assume and want the world to open up again, (based on SOUND expert medical advice, not partisan politics or cheap name calling) and we will discover that healthy people are the most able to withstand infection and/or recover well.

    1. HAPPY SUNDAY !!!
      I agree with your thoughts. Hopefully, I fit into definition of healthy. Over 70, Bad lungs, Heart repair, cute and cuddly.
      On a curious note. Are you, possibly, related to the Vet mentioned below ? He’s interred in Mt Hope cemetery, Aston, DELCO. Standring is a bit unusual.
      just ask’n’,

      FYI: from my spread sheet of interred Veterans
      Standring John Civil Army Pvt Co C 29th Emerg Militia of ’63 Reg PA Vol Inf 18/6/1863 – 1/8/1863
      1 6 14 2 Gov Stone 6/12/1839 – 9/3/1914 FAG D/C /Obit/Vets burial cert Purple Heart
      Wounded in left hand at Antietam and received a Surgeon’s discharge in Jan., 1863.

  4. Based on what I have seen and heard and read during this ‘crisis,’ we Americans — much to my surprise — have turned out to be very passive people. The government tells us to stay home, and most of us do; tells us to wear masks, and most do; tells us to stand six feet apart, and most do. Although we are told there is a horror stalking us, and although most of us see no real evidence of same (other than the foaming-at-the-mouth hysteria that comes to us in print and on radio and TV), we stay home, we stand apart, and… well, you get my drift. This passivity cannot last. It must not last. What the hell are we, France?

    1. Vince,
      Us older folks have the brains and common sense to “CYA”. The younger folk – not so much. They are good at having sit-ins and protesting. Maybe after this, they’ll gain some worthwhile experience.
      stay well,

  5. Pessimism feeds on itself. There is no power in pessimism. So my feelings are: you should not have shared your friends dark/dystopian visions at this time. On the other hand, there is great power in optimism. The people need some Churchill, some uplifting. I believe we will build this country back better than before. America (including Philadelphia) WILL be Great Again. The pessimistic left (including your low-energy “friend”) will just have to be dragged along. What in the world were you thinking to post that picture of our glorious flag with headstones on it? This was a low point for you.

  6. The converse of the saying “ If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. is “ If it sounds too awful to be possible, it probably is”. This will not develop into the worst case scenario, long term. But the downtowns in urban environments are in trouble. They will be hotbeds of social contact simply due to the density of households and therefore will be ongoing sources of infection. I think people are going to start considering moving to less populated areas. Those remaining will be faced with a big reduction in their standard of living, because there will never be enough funding to cover the staggering financial setback in the cities.

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