A realistic look at the future in a COVID world -- 2020, 2021, and beyond

Most of this is already in my part of the world. We don’t have subways. I’ve been to several weddings, walked through a maskless funeral/wake to get to the blood drive in the church basement, been to auctions and rummage sales, church and restaurants.
It won’t take long to return to last year normal. I’d say with the start of the new year. People wearing masks out in public may be a new normal for more than just those with health issues. My son is hoping he can stay working from home, his girlfriend wants him at work.

I agree with that and the rest of your post. I was thinking mostly about what the next 12 months looks like.

Given the reactions of the pandemic resistant, I think sometime mid 2021 we will have something of a vaccine, whether it is very effective or reasonably safe or not, and there will be a lot of social pressure to relax restrictions. There may be some who continue to mask in public for a while, but even that will fade over time. It’s just too uncomfortable and too awkward to keep up long term. There’s already mask fatigue by the most compliant among us.

Social pressures and psychological factors already get us to relax our guard around family and close friends, even if not cohabitating. People go to celebrations and funerals and act like covid is stopped at the door.

Not a chance. People get emotional, and they just can’t keep from hugging in celebration or condolence or gratitude. Watch it on the news in any of those human interest stories. “Oh, that’s so wonderful you are collecting donations for diapers and baby supplies to needy mothers, I’m so moved, let me hug you.”

Handshaking is a fight not to do now. It won’t become second nature to not handshake. We will just surrender.

It’s possible a lot of folks who have been able to telework will be able to continue. But there will be some push to bring people “back to the workplace”, because Zoom meetings are only so productive.

Online shopping will be something that more people do.


This was already a trend, the pandemic just reinforced it. Us holdouts who prefer in-person shopping for things will be fewer and fewer.

Meh, I’ve got customers who are there every day. Every day. And they aren’t necessarily the healthiest of people, either. It’s just what they do. No, I think the pressures of life the drove patterns to be less list and frequent trips will return.

Wider aisles in the markets maybe as a longer term effect - it takes time for renovations like that to occur, and there has to be strong economic driver. More self-service registers is a given, even without covid. It’s just economically preferred. Even though plenty of customers don’t like it, that’s what was already happening.

Yeah, I’m wondering what open-enrollment will look like this year as well.

I feel that the combination of increased comfort working from home, plus the already existent open office/hot swap desks will lead to a lot more hybrid work styles . . . People come in 2 or 3 days a week, for meetings or just to check in, but stay home when it makes sense. For couples with school age children, this would be amazing. That 2 or 3 hours between the end of the school day and the end of work is a real pita. For companies, this means offices can be 30%-40% smaller.

I wonder if business travel will ever come back as strong as it was. Some meetings still are better in person, but now that we’ve all had a crash course in Remote meetings, it may seem silly to send someone across the country for a conversation.

I think people will tire of the restrictions, much as Trump-followers and believers in “freedom” like the anti-maskers are already doing. The attraction young people have for each other will obviate any need for safety and hugging and then some will be back with a passion. Already I see students wearing masks for safety while they’re in school and then whipping them off and congregating in close quarters with their friends at lunchtime outside. When it’s an invisible threat, like CoVid-19, fear will only rule the day for so long. People get tired of the restrictions and long for normalcy. I think by the new year, many of these restrictions will be lifted simply because people won’t be complying with them any longer. Not that the restrictions aren’t important, but just because human nature.

I saw what you did here. :smirk:

And Halloween. How many people will comply with not handing out treats to strangers that come to their door, dressed in their adorable costumes?

There already are. As a teacher, I see it when kids interact unsupervised outside at lunchtime. Grade 9-12. No masks for the most part, no social distancing. Kids being kids, thinking they’re invincible. I think most of them wear masks and social distance just to impress the adults, not because they personally believe in it.

They’re… masked?

Halloween? The contacts are super brief, the kids are outside, other trick or treaters you’re maybe passing for a second? Anyone handing out candy can wear a mask, set a bowl of candy outside and help yourself while you watch from a door or window… frankly I see NO reasons why Halloween shouldn’t go forward.

On this whole issue, I have always said that there is a limited tolerance for shutdown, and what we do should be done judiciously. I comply with everything, work from home, wear a mask. But we don’t need to continue behaviors that add little to no value in protection.

And you’re comfortable that you know exactly what those are? I’m not. I’m erring on the side of safety. It’s one of those times when I apply my universal decision-making principle: “What are the consequences of a miscalculation.” (You can skip reminding me that every time I get in my car, I’m taking my life in my hands, okay?)

I was actually thinking the other day about masks. I’ve made several for myself and my family, it might be something I continue to wear in crowds during future flu seasons, now that I have them

To me, trick-or-treating is not particularly risky. It’s not a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd situation, and it’s generally outdoors (at least the way it’s done around here). Even if the person who answered the door were an unmasked asymptomatic carrier, the <6 ft exposure to that person would be very brief – around here, typically less than 10-15 seconds to walk up and accept the candy.

I, personally, have few concerns with touched-object spread via candy wrappers and such. If someone felt the need, the individually-wrapped items could be wiped down with peroxide or alcohol.

How Europe is handling it. We’re not this smart.

Even as cases rise, Europe tries to contain the virus with targeted measures rather than nationwide lockdowns.

In the early days of the pandemic, President Emmanuel Macron exhorted the French to wage “war” against an invisible enemy. Today, his message is to “learn how to live with the virus.’’

The approach contrasts sharply to the United States, where restrictions to protect against the virus have been politically divisive and where many regions have pushed ahead with reopening schools, shops and restaurants without having baseline protocols in place. The result has been nearly as many deaths as in Europe, though among a far smaller population.

Europeans, for the most part, are putting to use the hard-won lessons from the pandemic’s initial phase: the need to wear masks and practice social distancing, the importance of testing and tracing, the critical advantages of reacting nimbly and locally. All of those measures are intended to prevent the kind of national lockdowns that paralyzed the continent and crippled economies early this year.

“It’s not possible to stop the virus,” said Emmanuel André, a leading virologist in Belgium. “It’s about maintaining equilibrium.”

Another perspective.

Unfortunately, the sublime post-pandemic period that so many are longing for will likely not arrive all at once, like a clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve. If and when the pandemic is over someday—in the sense that it’s safe to resume normal life, or something like it—pinpointing its conclusion may never be possible. Internalizing that, and mentally bracing for a slow fade into the new normal, might lead to less angst.

Whatever the end of the pandemic might look like, the United States is nowhere close to it at the moment; week after week, hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to test positive for COVID-19, and several thousand die from it. But when the threat of the pandemic does eventually subside, the process will likely be gradual and incremental.

…He and Cade said they wouldn’t be comfortable going through with their plans until a safe vaccine had been developed and distributed. They and many others think of an effective vaccine as a key that unlocks the post-pandemic future. It would indeed provide some relief, but as my colleague Sarah Zhang has written, “it certainly will not immediately return life to normal”; the availability of a vaccine would represent merely “the beginning of a long, slow ramp down.”

As a result, although many people have a distinct memory of the beginning of the pandemic, they may not experience a single parallel moment marking the end of it. The break between the Before Times and the present was conspicuous, but the transition from the present to the After Times will likely be more piecemeal and less tidy.

Even if people crave a swift restoration of normalcy, many have come to terms with the fact that they won’t get it. “Wearing a mask is just like making sure you pocket your keys at this point,” says Athul Acharya, a 34-year-old lawyer in Portland, Oregon. The pandemic “has now lasted long enough that I, at least, don’t find myself waiting for the end. Looking forward to it? Yes. But anticipating it as a thing that will happen in the tangible future? Not so much.”

Not with a bang but a whimper.

IMHO, The Atlantic author is right on the money. How else could it possibly end?

Even if we had a vaccine tomorrow, this piece argues it would be 2024 before it could be fully administered. Though, I question whether “everyone in the world to be inoculated” is the proper goal.

The chief executive of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer has warned that not enough Covid-19 vaccines will be available for everyone in the world to be inoculated until the end of 2024 at the earliest.

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, told the Financial Times that pharmaceutical companies were not increasing production capacity quickly enough to vaccinate the global population in less time.

“It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” said Mr Poonawalla, who estimated that if the Covid-19 shot is a two-dose vaccine — such as measles or rotavirus — the world will need 15bn doses.

Assuming there are two or more vaccines that are at least 75 per cent protective against infection, three-quarters of the world’s population could be vaccinated by mid-2023, said Peter Hale, the executive director of the Foundation for Vaccine Research in the US. “That should be enough to curb the spread of infection and stall the pandemic — though not good enough to consign the virus to the dustbin of history,” Mr Hale added.

Redfield made two strong statements in a hearing yesterday:

  1. A vaccine that’s approved by the end of the year wouldn’t be “widely available to the general public” until the middle of next year.
  2. Masking is as important as a vaccine.

So he’s basically signalling that masking is necessary until the middle of next year and beyond.

We’re 6 months into it and that’s another 9 months.

I expect massive non-compliance in the US with two or three clear milestone dates each of which will see a jump:

Nov 4
Jan 1
Mar 1

Some governors will see the writing on the wall and throw in the towel.

WTF? Isn’t Trudeau worried about the populace becoming panicked by telling them the Truth? :thinking:

If only we had A+ leadership and health care like Canada we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now.

I believe this is an important point, but I think it will be much later than that. Any effective vaccine will be available to the following groups, in the following order (I realize there is overlap):

  1. Politicians
  2. Rich people
  3. Professional Sports players
  4. Celebrities
  5. Health care workers
  6. peasants like us.

The bad news is we normies (#5 & 6) will sit on the sidelines for many months, as the system tends to the healthcare needs of our betters. The good news is we (and health-care workers) will get a large-scale look at widespread and/or harmful side effects, which could allow us more accurate risk assessments about the vaccines when they trickle down to us.