“we have no choice”
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel explains when he believes life will get back to normal after the coronavirus, predicting that “the crisis is not going to go away in a few weeks or after the 30-day plan comes to an end.”
“Realistically, COVID-19 will be here for the next 18 months or more. We will not be able to return to normalcy until we find a vaccine or effective medications,” e said. “I know that’s dreadful news to hear. How are people supposed to find work if this goes on in some form for a year and a half? Is all that economic pain worth trying to stop COVID-19? The truth is we have no choice.”
EZEKIEL EMANUEL: No one is immune to the COVID-19 virus. It threatens all of us. But while we are all experiencing the same pandemic, we are not experiencing it in the same way.
The first dividing line is whether you or someone you love has gotten sick. Many Americans have not yet seen firsthand what devastation a positive test can inflict.
Another dividing line is whether you have a job that lets you stay at home, working as you juggle child care and video chats.
60 million Americans are still out there not sheltering in place and instead tirelessly working to keep everything going for the rest of us. You keep the electricity flowing and the internet running, food and groceries moving. You are putting your own health on the line to ensure the rest of us are living as normally as possible.
And then there are the tens of millions of Americans who have lost jobs and businesses, or who fear that they’re just about to. Your anxiety about the virus is coupled with worry over having a paycheck, covering the mortgage, keeping the lights on, and buying food.
Realistically, COVID-19 will be here for the next 18 months or more. We will not be able to return to normalcy until we find a vaccine or effective medications. I know that’s dreadful news to hear. How are people supposed to find work if this goes on in some form for a year and a half? Is all that economic pain worth trying to stop COVID-19? The truth is we have no choice.
If we prematurely end that physical distancing and the other measures keeping it at bay, deaths could skyrocket into the hundreds of thousands if not a million. We cannot return to normal until there’s a vaccine. Conferences, concerts, sporting events, religious services, dinner in a restaurant, none of that will resume until we find a vaccine, a treatment, or a cure.
One thing I’ve learned as a cancer doctor is that it’s wrong to paint an overly rosy picture in order to maintain a patient’s hope. It’s wrong because it fails. It’s false. Biology and disease are formidable opponents that inevitably tell us the truth. We cannot relieve the oppression of this pandemic until we are realistic. We need to prepare ourselves for this to last 18 months or so and for the toll that it will take. We need to develop a long-term solution based on those facts. It has to account for what we are losing while this fight goes on, things like schooling and income and contact with our friends and extended family.
The crisis is not going to go away in a few weeks or after the 30-day plan comes to an end. Although COVID-19 is affecting us in different ways, we have to be up to it and fight together.