The New Normal?

“The new normal.” This is a phrase I’ve heard many times this year due to the coronavirus. This virus has impacted all of our lives in a way that none of us expected. We have to wear masks to enter businesses or go to school, we have to physically distance and things such as work or school are online. But is it the new normal? Can society really function like this? I believe it can. 

Before COVID-19 came around, life seemed much simpler. People were able to go out and not have to worry about wearing masks and face coverings to enter a business. Now, most local and state governments have made it a mandate. There have been numerous protests about these orders because many people believe that the government is trying to control the people. However, I believe that this is a very effective and good thing. 

One of the dangerous things about the coronavirus is that you may not know if you have it. You can be asymptomatic and a carrier to infect other people. The virus is respiratory, so it mainly transmits itself through bodily fluids that come from your nose and mouth. Face masks highly decrease the transmission rate since masks go around your nose and mouth. If everyone wears one, there’s only a small chance of infecting others, even if you don’t know you have it. Many stores and people are even selling their own fabric masks to ensure that everyone has one. In my opinion, I think of masks as an accessory to help others rather than a requirement by the government. When I think of it this way, it becomes much easier to wear them. 

Next, along with face masks, the CDC and local governments often recommend physical distancing. Physical distancing is where you never stand closer than six feet to someone who isn’t from your own household. If you are not wearing a mask, physical distancing is extremely important. Even if you are wearing a mask, physical distancing is still important. Since COVID-19 is transmitted directly from the fluids of the nose and mouth, it is not hard for these germs to come into contact with you if you are standing very close to someone. Businesses have prompts on the floor to emphasize the importance of physical distancing. I haven’t been around a large crowd in a long time unless it is to go to the store. The practice of physical distancing is so important to me now. Even when the virus goes away, we will never be so sure of what sickness someone is carrying. Whether it’s the flu or cold or the next pandemic, physical distancing is a useful way to protect my health and others’ health. 

Because schools and work may have a high population, many people have been working or learning from home. While I miss in-person class as much as the next person, I think doing things online is a good way to control the virus until it is over. There has been outrage as schools figure out a way to let kids learn but keep them safe at the same time. It’s extremely challenging to come to a solution that keeps parents, students and the faculty happy. Parents have to work, colleges are expensive to attend and staff can have a hard time transitioning to an online curriculum. Even if a school doesn’t cost money to attend, like most K-12 schools, it is difficult to find a way to maintain socialization for students but not have them be in danger. Luckily, many communities have been providing resources to those who do not have the privileges of the internet, food and school supplies that many get at school. Online classes and work have been hard to navigate and I know it’s been even harder for teachers and bosses to put content on. But I know that all of this effort will pay off if we are saving thousands of lives. 

While the “new normal” is not something incredibly ideal, I believe if we follow these guidelines, it will help us now and in the future. Masks, physical distancing and remote learning have been incredibly helpful in curbing the spread of the virus and will be something to look at for guidance if a new sickness starts to spread. Doing these things individually is great, but we must do them all together for it to really work. I can’t imagine not practicing these things now. I am hoping that sometime soon this virus will die down, but until then, I think it is in our best interest to act proactively and stay safe.