10 Weird Ways Life Will Be Different After the Coronavirus Lockdown
Since a return to our pre-quarantine lives does not seem imminent, what will the "new normal" look like?
The vast majority of U.S. citizens have been in quarantine for weeks, and as time ticks on, many of us are wondering when life will return to normal again. But the truth is, a return to pre-coronavirus "normalcy" is likely a year to 18 months away (i.e. how long it will probably take to develop, test, and produce a reliable vaccine for the deadly COVID-19 contagion). But that's not to say you'll be sequestered in your home that whole time. First, we'll be establishing and adapting to a "new normal"—a balanced approach to protecting public health and restarting an economic engine that has millions of Americans in dire straits.
Predicting what life will look like in the next few weeks, let alone in the next few months, is a dangerous exercise. After all, no one can see exactly what the future holds. But there are trends, comments, and policies that are already in place that give us clues as to what the "new normal" will actually look like. Here are 10 changes you're likely to see in our new lives post-lockdown.
Sports will be played in empty stadiums and arenas.
Until a vaccine is widely available, large gatherings are almost certain to be banned. Professional and college sports may very well be played, but the prevailing wisdom is that these games will be played in empty stadiums and arenas.
In fact, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Wednesday that large gatherings—including sports, concerts, and the like—will likely not happen until 2021.
And waiters will likely be wearing masks.
During a Tuesday press conference about reopening businesses in his state, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that in the coming months, "you may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, maybe a face mask—dinner where the menu is disposable, where half of the tables in that restaurant no longer appear."
There will be no more handshaking.
Lead virologist Anthony Fauci, MD, of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, recently admitted that, if it were up to him, handshakes would entirely be a thing of the past. "I don't think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you," he said during a recent Wall Street Journal podcast. "Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country."
We'll still be wearing masks and standing far apart.
From President Donald Trump to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, there is bipartisan support for continued social distancing, particularly in areas that have not experienced peak incidence of the coronavirus. What does this mean? We'll still likely be told to stay six feet apart from other individuals, and will be wearing masks and facial coverings, particularly in high-trafficked indoor locations like grocery stores. In short, get used to the masks and talking to friends from across the street; it will likely be a big part of your summer. And if you're in need of a mask, check out 5 Household Items to Use as Face Mask Alternatives.
There will be frequent and widespread testing for COVID-19.
Fauci agrees with the guidelines put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) that in order for businesses to reopen, we'll need broad diagnostic and antibody testing. There is an ongoing race among biotech corporations to develop and produce testing and there is very encouraging news in the rapid rate of progress. In short, if you haven't yet been tested, expect to be tested sometime in the next few months. And for more on the COVID-19 test, check out What Is the Coronavirus Test Like? A Doctor Explains COVID-19 Testing.
And there will be ubiquitous temperature-taking.
Random testing from remote forehead thermometers sounds like something out of dystopian young adult novel, but it's already happening in real life—and not just at exclusive and high-security environments, like White House press briefings. A grocery store in Connecticut has begun the practice of taking shoppers' temperatures to protect its patrons and staff alike. Since fevers are a clear symptom of COVID-19, making sure someone's temperature isn't above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is a great way to keep others from getting sick.
Doctor visits will be via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom.
In the very early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. government enabled the medical community to give basic diagnoses via video chat services. A large part of the important service provided by doctors is psycho-social assessments, which can effectively be done via video chat. While telehealth was already becoming popular, these virtual appointments will very likely continue long before the coronavirus pandemic has ended.
COVID-19 sniffing dogs will be monitoring public places.
According to James Logan, the head of disease control at the London School of Hygiene and Topical Medicine, research shows that dogs can detect the odor of infections with a level of accuracy "above the World Health Organization standards for a diagnostic." For example, a 2019 study found that, due to their smell receptors being 10,000 times more accurate than ours, dogs can sniff out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97 percent accuracy. There is growing acceptance that it's not a matter of if, but when dogs will be trained to sniff out COVID-19.
You'll be continuing to work from home.
Many companies are realizing that the cost of renting a big office space, when many staff members can be just as effective and efficient working from home, might be a waste of money. Of course, not all businesses have this option, but expect a surplus of empty office spaces in the coming months.
Also, snow days at schools may become a thing of the past as well.
Robots will replace humans in factories.
Need evidence that close-quartered production facilities can become a petri dish of contagion? Look no further than the Sioux Falls pork processing plant that just shuttered due to an outbreak of the coronavirus. Automated robots replacing human employees is a trend that started long before this contagion, but COVID-19 will likely hasten its progress. And for more facts about coronavirus you need to know, check out 16 Coronavirus Myths You Need to Stop Believing, According to Doctors.