Analysis & Comment

Opinion | There Will Be No Post-Covid


By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

There have been many stages of our collective Covid reaction.

There was the initial panic, with the shortages of toilet paper (I still haven’t completely figured that one out) and Lysol. In those days, one dared not even cough in public. I had a cold when I was in Los Angeles. I sneezed and a friend misted me with sanitizer.

I believe that I experienced the pandemic like many others: stunned and isolated, shocked by the sudden withdrawal of social life and social customs.

In the beginning, many of us found it frightening, but also thought that it would be — or could be — brief.

Donald Trump terribly mismanaged the American response, meaning that people died who didn’t have to. A study by The Lancet Commission on Public Policy last February reported that the United States could have avoided 40 percent of deaths if its death rate reflected that of other Group of 7 nations: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Many of us assumed that with a new administration and a new Covid policy, we would see an end to the pandemic. But Republican governors wouldn’t implement better policies, and the virus itself proved harder to deal with than we thought.

Many of the same Group of 7 countries that fared better than the United States under Trump are still struggling with the virus, as we are. For millions around the world, the pandemic continues to drag on.

Last summer, after the initial panic had passed, I began to gravitate to comforting experiences, both sensory and psychological.

I took joy in cooking. I learned to make bread. I followed Tabitha Brown, a vegan cook who dished out big-smile affirmations with her recipes.

I bought more plants. I wasn’t the only one. Sales of house plants soared during the pandemic.

I tuned into D-Nice’s “Club Quarantine.” I listened to the Verzuz battle. I turned to music as a salve. The rhythm provided continuity when routines had been disrupted.

I watched more TV than I ever had, and even there, I returned to classics as much as I explored new offerings.

All of us, I believe, were simply waiting to see when our lives would reset, and what the new normal would look like. We still believed that if we did the right things — at least if enough of us did them — that the pandemic would pass and things would snap back to the way they were.

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