Imagining a life beyond COVID-19

Tribune News Service t\There’ll come the time, too, when the virus has receded sufficiently — nationally, cases are down 50% since Sept. 1 — so that even the most masked-up communities and businesses drop their mandates

The following editorial was originally published by the editorial board of The Republican of Springfield, Mass., and also appeared online at masslive.com:

No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Imagining next week, next month, next year, of course, is an even more daunting task.

But this obvious truth doesn’t prevent people from playing the prognostication game, conjecturing on all manner of things, from the weather to the economy to what life will be like when the coronavirus pandemic is fully in the books.

There’s a sort of shorthand that has taken hold regarding the last of those. It goes something like this: “Once we’ve returned to normal again ... .”

The implication, it often seems, is that life will be like it was back in 2019. And maybe it will, in part, at least. But not entirely, and not suddenly.

On the simplest level, there are businesses that were shuttered after the coming of the pandemic 19 months back that are sadly gone now. A restaurant that you enjoyed visiting from time to time could be long closed. Same with that nice little bakery that offered such lovely sweets. The list is long.

In that way alone, the post-COVID world won’t be like 2019. You’ll need to find new favorite places to dine, to shop.

Still, over time, new businesses will come into existence, begun by entrepreneurs who have a dream they cannot let go of, and enough desire to try to make a go of it.

And there’ll come the time, too, when the virus has receded sufficiently — nationally, cases are down 50% since Sept. 1 — so that even the most masked-up communities and businesses drop their mandates. Imagine it. Real smiles again. Real, full faces, like we saw ever so briefly during that period when everyone believed that the vaccines had allowed us to turn the corner. Though we backslid again, at least in some cities and towns, we can all of us hope that we’ll reach a point when masks are reserved for Halloween.

When the new normal comes, it will arrive not like a bolt of lightning, but like the sunrise on a cloudless winter’s morning. It will at first seem perhaps not quite so dark. And then a bit lighter still. And then, before you know it, so unimaginably sunny and bright that you’ll need to shade your eyes to survey the landscape.

Eventually, a new, sunny post-COVID day will dawn, and not only in our imaginings, our hopes and dreams.

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