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COVID-19: What Is the New Normal?

COVID-19: What Is the New Normal?

March 11, 2020, our lives dramatically changed when our teams rallied in response to the  COVID-19 pandemic arrival in the Grand Forks community. We have persevered through this pandemic and continue to show up for our communities. We have made strides to keep the virus in check as much as possible with testing, masking, social distancing, vaccines and other precautionary measures. Despite that fact, communities across the country continue to experience positive testing surges and nearly 850,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19. 

As we surpass two years in a pandemic, many of us are asking if living in a pandemic will be the "new normal" for everyone in the future? Or will COVID-19 eventually be eradicated? While infectious diseases experts say they don't have a crystal ball, they do expect things to change in the future. 

"As we move into this new normal, what that really will mean is that this becomes an endemic virus like the flu that just circulates around — worse in certain times of the year in places — and requires some of the same measures that we require for the flu, like having a regular revaccination," says Dr. John O'Horo, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist. 

Two boys touch elbows while walking in hallway.

While many of the precautionary measures, such as masking, might be relaxed by health officials in this new normal, Dr. O'Horo expects they could be reinstated in the future if surges in COVID-19 cases occur. 

"During periods of high transmission, we may see some of these restrictions return that we've been used to in the past two years — like wearing masks in certain settings — depending on local prevalence, strains that are around and the vulnerability of people who are in there. Health care facilities, for example, are going to have a lower threshold for recommending or even requiring masks during a surge in the future. But hopefully, these surges are going to be shorter and less frequent than we've seen in these past two years where it's really been a pandemic." 

Person packs a face mask, hand sanitizer, and their passport for a trip.

New Normal in our Community 

“The new normal with COVID-19 is about ongoing change, resiliency, and support of each other,” explains Dr. Joshua Deere, Chief Medical Director for Altru. “We will continue to work on to increasing vaccination rates as this has been shown to be our best defense for future waves, if or when they occur, prevention of death, and reduction of health care strain. Our focus will continue to work on supporting all our teams going forward. We have all endured a lot throughout this pandemic and continuing to support one another is key to the new normal with COVID-19.” 

Learn more about COVID-19. 
 

As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Altru Health System has access to Mayo Clinic knowledge, resources and expertise. This includes collaborating with Mayo Clinic specialists on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.