The return to ‘normal’ will be gradual, health experts say


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s the million-dollar question right now — when will life return to normal? As the country pushes for more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, health experts say it could be as early as this fall.

“It’ll be so gradual, we probably won’t even notice it,” said Howard Markel, historian of medicine at the University of Michigan and pediatrician to ABC News. “It’s not a light switch or like V-Day — like, it’s over, you know, we won! It’s not that way.”

Health experts say that 75-80% of the country needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. If or when that happens, the country could begin inching back to normal.

“It all depends on how many people roll up their sleeve and get the immunization, you see,” Markel told ABC News. “So that’s my fear, that’s what keeps me up at night.”

As far as what “normal” could look like in the fall, doctors say, it will likely still look a bit different. People would still reconnect with loved ones wearing masks, undergo routine COVID tests, and perhaps even have mandatory vaccine cards to enter certain places.

Dr. William Schaffner, professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, also added that online business meetings, for example, might become more commonplace than packed conference rooms if possible.

“Masks ought to be one of the last things that goes,” Schaffner said to ABC news. “They’re a bother, they’re dorky, but they’re so effective and so easy and so cheap. They wouldn’t be the first things I take off; they would be the last.”

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