To many people, it might still sound callous to start a discussion about when we can return to normal life.
After over a year and a half, the majority of Americans are vaccinated, yet simultaneously, the latest “winter surge” has caused another spike in cases of Covid-19.
But those of us glued to the news likely understand by now that the coronavirus comes in waves, and this is merely the latest one.
A recent piece in The New York Times raised this very question:
“Among the Covid experts I regularly talk with, Dr. Robert Wachter is one of the more cautious. He worries about “long Covid,” and he believes that many people should receive booster shots. He says that he may wear a mask in supermarkets and on airplanes for the rest of his life.
“Yet Wachter — the chair of the medicine department at the University of California, San Francisco — also worries about the downsides of organizing our lives around Covid. In recent weeks, he has begun to think about when most of life’s rhythms should start returning to normal. Increasingly, he believes the answer is: Now.”
The pandemic isn’t going to end overnight. The reality is that Covid-19 is more than likely going to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future. As the Times article points out: “But we have the tools — vaccines, along with an emerging group of treatments — to turn it into a manageable virus, similar to the seasonal flu.”
This new understanding of our situation — as a community and as a nation — begs the question: What can we do about it?
My answer: Get to work helping each other.
In Chicago, the city’s financial outlook was recently upgraded by S&P Global Ratings. The company lifted the city’s outlook to stable from negative given the “return to greater stability following the pressures created by the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to the S&P report.
Yet there are still major problems that must be addressed, and now is the time to start doing it. For more than 18 months, many of us have been waiting, even if we weren’t sure what exactly we were waiting for.
The time has come to roll up our sleeves and start helping our neighbors.
As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in September, half a million people in Cook County continue to struggle with food insecurity.
“The sad truth is that food security is a persistent reality for millions of Americans, though the severity of the problem ebbs and flows,” the editorial said. “And right now, due to the pandemic, the problem is flowing harder. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world.”
There was a surge in demand for food during the first months of the pandemic, yet Chicago’s residents rose to the challenge. The Greater Chicago Food Depository distributed more than 117 million pounds of food — the largest amount of food in the nonprofit’s 42-year history, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
In other words, we know that we can do better for each other. None of us really know what normalcy looks like anymore, but making sure that our neighbors don’t go hungry sounds like a good place to start.