Arizona Professor: We Might Get Some Semblance Of Normalcy By Summer 2021

By Scott Bourque
Published: Monday, September 14, 2020 - 11:04am

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive to the everyday lives of most Americans. Summer plans have been postponed, school and work have been disrupted, and most people are craving some semblance of normalcy.

It’s been 19 years since the 9/11 attacks, but we still have to take our shoes off at the airport. Dr. Shad Marvasti with the University of Arizona College of Medicine says the COVID-19 pandemic will be similar: Changes that we’ve implemented in response to it will probably be around for a long time.

"We're never going to be quite the same now that we know that viruses like this can come and disrupt virtually every aspect of life, and we're going to take some lessons from this that aren't going away," Marvasti said.

But the lessons learned can lead to positive developments in public health.

“We’ve found some new insights into mask wearing and distancing that are not only useful for this particular virus, but will be useful for any and all virus that are transmitted through respiratory contact, including the flu,” Marvasti said.

A social distancing sign at a Costco
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A social distancing sign at a Costco in north Phoenix in May 2020.

Marvasti says he’s cautiously optimistic about a possible return to some degree of normal by next summer — but that all depends on a lot of different factors.

"Much will depend on not only the people continuing to following public health guidelines through the flu season, but also on a successful vaccine that is both effective and safe that can be widely available," Marvasti said. "Those factors, keeping in mind, then I think it is good to be cautiously optimistic about starting to return to some higher level of normalcy in the summer of 2021."

With a safe and effective vaccine, though, Marvasti says we could return to a higher level of normalcy in the summer of 2021, but there are plenty of complicating factors that could delay that. And even then, he says he's doubtful big sporting events and concerts will be back that quickly.

"I don't know if we're going to go back to having mass gatherings the way we did before," Marvasti said. "Before this virus completely plays out, and hopefully no other virus emerges, I don't know if it's going to happen, even then, in terms of huge gatherings like concerts and sporting events."

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