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Commentary: America’s re-opening brings with it a new normal

Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Commentary: America’s re-opening brings with it a new normal
May 20
14:09 2020

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

This past week marked the re-opening of the United States of America. I must admit that it sounds strange, yet this is our reality. This is real time. Our America has been idle for a while now. 

The CDC warned us on February 25 to prepare for this disease. We were stopped cold in our tracks. Were we prepared for this national emergency?

The current administration says they have handled this pandemic quite well. They also say they are optimistic about the future. I suspect their tone and explanations will drive America going forward. Others disagree with their assertions. What we can all agree on is that we need a pandemic panacea.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) has said in recent weeks that we are many months away from getting a vaccine. Next year seems to be a likely timeframe. Anything sooner would be a medical marvel. Those associated with developing a vaccine are all racing to the finish line. According to some reports, a vaccine may take as long as 12-18 months to develop. Even with that news, medical personnel still do not know if there is a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19. What do we do in the meantime?

We live in a new normal. The term, while not new, was not meant to describe our living with the coronavirus. These new ways will take some time for us to adjust to them. However, it is clear we will have to alter our lifestyles.

My wife and I have been wearing masks for some time now. They are like that popular credit card, we don’t leave home without them. Our shopping has been reduced to two stores. Most of our buying is done online. For example, we drive up to the store, pop open our trunk, supplies go in and we are on the way.

The mask wearing limits social interaction. Talking through a mask is difficult, so we wave and keep going. The masks, coupled with social distancing, have kept human contact to a bare minimum. It is uncomfortable when you see some folks without a face covering. You wonder what they are thinking … or maybe not thinking.

As we wash our hands more and touch each other less, our showing affection to our neighbors and friends will change. I believe I live in the most affectionate city in the world, New Orleans, Louisiana. Hugging and embracing are just a way of life here. The Big Easy is the Big Friendly. How will this align with the new normal?

Despite being trapped and strapped down by COVID-19, we must remain hopeful. 

When this illness initially started, there were only dark days ahead. It appeared that we were in a permanent health fog. We were scattered and scarred physically and emotionally. It became apparent and still is a fact that older Americans are more susceptible to COVID-19. Health disparities have shown African Americans suffer more.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) said, “As of May 11, all (12 models) forecast an increase in deaths in the coming weeks and a cumulative total exceeding 100,000 by June 1.” People of all hues are sadly passing away from the coronavirus at alarming rates.

Yet the new normal is beckoning to us. It is telling us there will be a new way of doing things. In some ways, it will be out with the old and in with the new. We are a bit timid to take this step, but we must. We are in phase 1 and we still have a steep hill to climb. Our nation is in peril; however there is a light that seems to be coming in our direction.

It will get brighter. Having patience and healthy practices will get us there.

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