The Newest New Normal

By Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

The annoying thing about scientists is that they’re usually right. They sure were right this year when they warned us about this darned coronavirus thing. C’mon gals and guys, could you maybe be wrong every now and then?!

Here’s a really annoying recent comment made by Rachel Walensky, a smarty pants doctor and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Speaking to Bloomberg News, she said, “Everybody wants to know, when can I go out to eat again and when can I take off my mask? And I don’t see a path to that through at least 2021, maybe ’22.”

So go ahead and order that lovely floral pattern mask you looked at online last week. You might as well have one for every day of the week, plus a few fancy ones for formal Zoom gatherings. And maybe you could use a few more cookbooks, too.

Remember Tupperware? Its stock is way up this year because all of the newly minted home chefs need storage containers for the piles of food they’re making. The moral of this story is: It can be hard to figure how things may change because of unexpected developments. There have been many articles speculating on how our current pandemic will change things for the long-term. Here’s one from Politico with predictions from 34 people. Some of these ideas seem kinda hopeful (A decline in polarization), while others have already proven to be very true (voting by mail will become the norm).

But there are some things we can all be pretty sure about. For instance, we can all be pretty sure that more people will be working and learning from home for a good long while. I’d like to personally congratulate Vern Yip, who is not a scientist, for really thinking ahead and publishing, in 2019, a book called “Vern Yip's Vacation at Home: Design Ideas for Creating Your Everyday Getaway.” The publisher annotation says it best: “With Vern's reassuring tone and clear, easy steps, readers can create spaces that can make every day feel like vacation!”

Way to go, Vern. You can find his book and many more in a Bibz list we put together called Staying Comfortable and Safe At Home. We’ve got another complementary list called Working and Learning At Home.

Some other reasonable predictions: It’s going to be tough for restaurants for a good long time to come. The performing arts are going to be something you mostly watch on computers and TVs for maybe another year or so. Broadway has already cancelled all shows through the end of May 2021.

What about sports? That’s a tougher call, but folks will probably be going back to outdoor games sooner than indoor games, so maybe baseball, football, and soccer are going to have more in-persons fans than basketball and hockey in the next year or so. As for a vaccine or multiple vaccines, those of us who are relatively healthy and under 65 will probably not be getting one until the second quarter of 2021 or later (sources for these estimates can be found here and here).

We’re pretty sure readers will be obsessed with pandemics for a while longer, and publishers seem to agree. So we also have two more lists on epidemics and pandemics: one for fiction and one for nonfiction.

This article has been a bit of a bummer, and may remind you of things you’d rather not think about, so for a ray of sunshine – did you know the McRib is coming back, nationwide?! Also, puppies and kittens are still cute.