In early 2020, life as we knew it suddenly and dramatically changed due to COVID-19. Eating at restaurants, going to the movies, praying with loved ones at church and temple, throwing back drinks at a bar with friends, and even being able to attend classes in person, were suddenly considered a threat to public health. Now, several months into the pandemic, many people are wondering when those activities can be safely enjoyed again, without the use of masks or social distancing. During a live Q&A with National Institute of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, revealed when life will go back to "normal" and what exactly normal will look like in the post-pandemic world. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Said When We'd Be Able to Enjoy Life as We Knew It
Dr. Collins read a viewer question: "Somebody is asking about what's going to happen as far as masking and social distancing. So if we have a vaccine that's been proven, safe and effective, and we start distributing it, like you're saying late December, January, does that mean everybody can go back to life as they have enjoyed it in 2019, put away the masks, go to the bars, whatever?" Fauci revealed that "there's a short answer and the longer."
"The short answer is absolutely not," he confirmed. Instead, there will be "a gradual relaxation of some of the stringent public health measures, never to be abandoned."
So how long will masks be the norm? "I can foresee that even with a really good vaccine that mask wearing will continue well into the third or fourth quarter of 2021," he said. After that, there will be "a graded, gradual progression towards normality."
He gave some examples of what might be possible in a year from now. "I believe restaurants might be able to do indoor at moderate, if not full, capacity. Theaters will then be able to seat people, maybe not initially at full capacity, but working your way to that. Sports events will then have spectators very likely in graded amounts with regard to capacity," he said. "So that ultimately when we get this under control, not only at the domestic, but at the global level, we will start to approach what we call normal."
"I don't think Francis, that it's going to be at a level where people are going to feel like there are no public health measures to be implemented until we get to the end of 2021, at least," he concluded.
Dr. Fauci Says We Have to Stick With the Fundamentals
Dr. Collins also mentioned that while people are getting tired of following the fundamentals, it is just as important as ever.
"We've got a long road yet to go," he said. "And as you see the cases just going up very steeply right now, we don't have the therapeutics and the vaccines in hand to say, 'this is not a problem.' It's a big problem. So we all have to take some responsibility even more than ever to try to implement those particular public health measures."
He urged the importance of the fundamentals often emphasized by Dr. Fauci. "Please wear your mask when you go outside, keep that six foot distance, avoid those indoor gatherings, wash your hands," Dr. Collins said. "All of those simple things are going to be necessary for months to come. And we should just roll up our collective sleeves of energy here and make sure that happens." So follow those fundamentals, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.