I’m not sure why this is in temp.
I chose “Never”, not because I think the current state of emergency is going to last forever (maybe a year, until vaccines are available?), but because the changes are going to be big, deep, and profound, in ways we can’t really anticipate - I guess 9/11, or the end of the Cold War, are the comparable events that many of us have already lived through.
I keep thinking of the show Counterpart, which partly takes place in a world twenty years after a disastrous plague. In that world, department stores are empty, health scanners are everywhere, and street life has disappeared.
I haven’t yet seen discussions of how the world recovered and changed after the 1918 flu pandemic, but they must be out there, and journalists are probably writing more as we speak. It was after all the “Roaring Twenties”, so maybe social life wasn’t that affected in the long run!
Ed Yong at the Atlantic has a long piece on different ways this may play out, with the last quarter or so, called “The Aftermath”, looking to the future. A few of sentences from that part quoted:
But “there is also the potential for a much better world after we get through this trauma,” says Richard Danzig of the Center for a New American Security. Already, communities are finding new ways of coming together, even as they must stay apart.
Pandemics can also catalyze social change.
Aspects of America’s identity may need rethinking after COVID-19.
After 9/11, the world focused on counterterrorism. After COVID-19, attention may shift to public health.
And the final two paragraphs:
One could easily conceive of a world in which most of the nation believes that America defeated COVID-19. Despite his many lapses, Trump’s approval rating has surged. Imagine that he succeeds in diverting blame for the crisis to China, casting it as the villain and America as the resilient hero. During the second term of his presidency, the U.S. turns further inward and pulls out of NATO and other international alliances, builds actual and figurative walls, and disinvests in other nations. As Gen C grows up, foreign plagues replace communists and terrorists as the new generational threat.
One could also envisage a future in which America learns a different lesson. A communal spirit, ironically born through social distancing, causes people to turn outward, to neighbors both foreign and domestic. The election of November 2020 becomes a repudiation of “America first” politics. The nation pivots, as it did after World War II, from isolationism to international cooperation. Buoyed by steady investments and an influx of the brightest minds, the health-care workforce surges. Gen C kids write school essays about growing up to be epidemiologists. Public health becomes the centerpiece of foreign policy. The U.S. leads a new global partnership focused on solving challenges like pandemics and climate change.