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When will life return to normal? COVID experts are considering what summer and autumn might look like

This is the million-dollar question everyone is asking about COVID-19: When will life return to normal? And will it open a school this fall?

However, the reality depends a lot on how you define “normal”. And if enough Americans are invited to shoot this summer, it may not be as depressing as you think.

Experts say that autumn could become a season of “new normal”, in which the world is slowly reopening and people will reconnect, but with masks, routine tests and possibly even vaccine cards to allow them to enter. cinemas or restaurants.


7;s going to be so gradual, we probably won’t even notice it,” said Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan and a pediatrician. “It’s not a light switch or like V-Day – like, it’s over, you know, we won! It’s not like that.”

So what can ruin all this? Infectious disease experts agree that at least 70-85% of the country must be immunized to starve the virus. Markel said he favors 90% of such a hidden virus.

“It all depends on how many people roll up their sleeves and get immunizations, you know,” Markel told ABC News. “So that’s my fear, that’s what keeps me awake at night.”

Here’s what health experts say this year:

Spring will be a time of uncertainty and probably more deaths

The country is stagnant with the virus. Even with a national average of seven days of about 74% in a few weeks, the United States still averages about 64,000 new cases a day. This average is on par with last fall just before the outbreak of the holiday season.

This stagnant progress means that the country is on track to enter the season of spring break, graduation, family holidays and gatherings in the neighborhood with already high viral transmission, all the while expecting a new, more transmissible variant originating from the UK dominant strain of the virus by mid-March.

Health experts warn that states like Texas and Mississippi are now opening up and removing mandates, there could be a recent heartbreaking rise in new cases – followed weeks later by hospitalizations and deaths – just as the nation is on the verge of mass vaccinations.

“I know that the idea of ​​relaxing wearing masks and returning to daily activities is attractive. But we are not there yet,” said Dr. Rochelle Valensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’ve seen this film before. When prevention measures, such as mask mandates, are lifted, the number of cases increases.”

With your fingers, summer is becoming a season of mass vaccinations

“I think it’s a huge undertaking,” said Simon Wilds, an infectious disease doctor at South Shore Health in Massachusetts and a medical assistant at ABC News, about the mass vaccination.

“But if we can do it in June, July … we can spend a decent summer. But it really depends on how things develop over the next few months,” she said.

Markel claimed that by early July, almost all “early adopters” of the vaccine would have experience. At this point, much of the nation may be able to slowly expand its pod.

Markel said he would still not recommend making an early deposit for a non-refundable beach house with an extended family this summer.

Wildes agreed.

“Be flexible that if you know that people are not vaccinated, if the number of cases increases, especially in the options that we can cancel these plans,” said Wilds. “There’s nothing wrong with making preliminary plans, but I think we just have to remember where things are at this particular moment.”

Depending on how many Americans get vaccinated, autumn could become the “new normal”

Dr Anthony Fauci said on Thursday that he now believes that by “autumn, mid-autumn, early winter” everyone can return to work, the children will be at school and dinner indoors may be buzzing again.

His prediction follows a White House announcement that a vaccine maker, Johnson and Johnson, will be able to speed up supplies. However, the summer months will be needed to introduce the vaccines.

“By the time we fall with the implementation of the vaccine program, you will see something noticeable in the direction of a return to normal, and you will most likely reach the end of the year,” said Fauzi, the country’s best national infectious disease expert and chief medical adviser. Biden.

Dr William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he preferred to put “normal” in quotes now because life would probably look very different. Online business meetings, for example, may become more common than crowded conference rooms, if possible.

“Masks have to be one of the last things that happens,” Schaffner said. “They’re annoying, stupid, but they’re so effective, so easy and so cheap. They wouldn’t be the first things I took off; they would be the last.”

But if enough people are vaccinated, he agrees that schools and colleges should be able to open at low risk this fall and the United States to see a brighter Thanksgiving.

My expectation is that we will enter this “new norm” by the end of the summer and in the fall, and we can all – I hope – thank Thanksgiving in a more conventional way, sitting around the table with our family, friends, relatives, masks removed and thanks and joy that we went through this terrible pandemic and survived, “said Schaffner.

Yet every expert interviewed by ABC News describes a kind of cautious “wait and see” approach. Vaccine hesitation remains a problem among some Americans. And if the transmission of viruses in other countries remains high, the virus can mutate in ways that repel the efficacy of vaccines – a potential risk even to vaccinated individuals.

“We can go back to some of the things we’re used to, but to say we’re going back to normal is not going to be the same,” Wilds said.

“I think it will even be difficult for me to hug people,” she added later.

When it’s all over, no matter how many months or years later, Markel, who has spent 30 years studying pandemics, is sure of one thing: “We’ll forget about it.”

“We will continue on our merry journey,” he said. “I’m telling you, I’ve studied a lot of pandemics. This is the end. It’s like amnesia. And that’s what I’m worried about.”

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