Why should we think that things will return to normal? That’s easy. We’ve had several pandemics throughout history and things have always returned to normal once they ran their course and subsided. A good example of this is the 1918 pandemic known as the ‘Spanish Flu.’ This outbreak resulted in about one-third of the world’s population infected and over 600,000 American deaths, but things did eventually return to normal.
Back then communities struggled with ways to minimize the impact of the outbreak without modern technology, communications, or medicine. Similar to our current situation, the best strategies for that were social distancing, sanitizing, masks and quarantines. Studies have shown that areas that did those things during that pandemic faired much better while that virus raged on for months.
First appearing in the spring of 1918, the Spanish Flu virus ran it’s course until enough ‘herd immunity’ developed and things began returning back to normal about one year later in the spring of 1919. Technology for vaccines and treatments against viral infections were not as advanced at that time, and an effective vaccine was never developed to deal with the Spanish Flu pandemic.
Today, we are faced with a very similar dilemma with COVID19 that the world faced over a hundred years ago. Although we are far more advanced in medicine, it takes time to develop safe and effective vaccines and treatments for a new or ‘novel’ disease. Until then we do have the proven strategies of social distancing, using masks, and sanitizing. Unfortunately, portion of the population are uncooperative and do not want to follow these. Despite having much better technology and communications, the message is lost on many people and the virus is free to infect far more than necessary.
A complete return to normal from the COVID19 will require a large portion of our population to have either recovered from the disease or been vaccinated against it. Infectious disease specialist, Dr. W. David Hardy, recently stated in an interview with Healthline magazine that this will happen “When there is strong scientific evidence that the vaccination has rendered 65 to 70 percent of the population.” For that, though, he said the people need to “trust in science.”
Experts are now predicting that a COVID19 vaccine may be available as early as January of 2021. With time for distribution that may mean returning to normal in late winter or early spring of next year. Dr. Hardy places his bets on the new normal as “the second or third quarter of 2021.” Further, advancements in treatments and drug therapies will also minimize the effects of the virus for those who do become infected as time progresses.
Recently, Massachusetts Governor Baker lessoned the restrictions for certain areas in the Commonwealth with low Coronavirus metrics. This applied to the Berkshires and allowed ZenQuest to increase the number of students allowed in each class slightly. We are hoping that our area continues to do well with low infections and spread, and this trend continues.
So, what will a return to normal at ZenQuest look like? We are bound by the orders and guidelines provided by the Massachusetts Governor’s office. It’s possible that they will just keep things the same until enough of the population is vaccinated and the all clear signal is given. Its also possible that we will continue to see the current restrictions reduced gradually up to that point.
It’s difficult to say exactly, but we can imagine how that would likely play out. If things continued to go well in the Berkshires we could see additional safety measures relaxed in stages including (not necessarily in this order):
· Elimination of one-way traffic and return to free movement throughout the building
· Reopening common areas like the reception area, changing rooms, and class viewing area
· Reduced social distancing and a return to partner drills (possibly with designated partners)
· Reduction in extreme sanitizing and cleaning
· Returning to free sparring and rolling
· Elimination of masks requirements
We’re all looking forward to returning to normal in and out of the Dojo. Until then we must stay vigilant with the only measures we have to control COVID19...social distancing, disinfecting, and masks. Experts also say that getting flu shots and otherwise staying as healthy as possible can help keep your immune system strong in the event of an infection.
So, here’s to staying focused and doing our best until better days arrive!