If I hear the phrase “new normal” one more time … I’ll scream. It — and the situation defined — has become a one-size-fits-all moniker for changes wrought by the coronavirus.

Only now has the import begun to sink in; life as we knew it may never return, at least not for old folks. For the foreseeable future, every newscast will begin with statistics. Every newspaper will localize those stats. Unless something worse happens.

What could be worse? This plague has infiltrated everything — weddings to funerals, finances to family visits, school to sports. How many first kisses have been postponed, along with the prom?

Election? What election?

Not surprising, the first wave of sickness/death inspired heart-warming responses. People helping people assured us that humanity survives. This slacks off, eventually. Already, I see many TV ads about companies donating stuff to the cause, which helps the cause while being darn good advertising for the company.

But the natives are getting restless. They shock less easily. Even rows of refrigerated trucks holding body bags parked within sight of the Statue of Liberty fail to deter folks who are rarin’ to get out, let loose, have fun.

And, most important, get back to work.

Which illustrates a type of carnival mentality: “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow …”

You know the rest.

Natural disasters have accustomed us to dire circumstances. Yet floodwaters recede, houses are rebuilt, power restored. And then, the supermarket shelves are once again stocked. This time, six weeks into the pandemic, toilet paper and bleach remain no-shows. Despite excuses, I take that to mean rationing certain basics will become part of the new normal.

Now that restrictions have been relaxed, many (but not all) Americans will flock to happy places. I watch how restaurants are planning to mitigate transmission of the virus. Sounds reasonable, but I wonder, with even a reduced number of diners, how a group enclosed in a space can avoid shedding or picking up contamination, perhaps in the

restroom, especially at bars, despite markings to keep customers separated. Alcohol relaxes inhibitions, compliance.

Nobody knows, for sure, if a new normal meal or a few drinks might turn into Russian roulette. Will masked and gloved servers be a constant reminder of the reason they are required?

We’ll know soon enough.

My heart breaks for hospitality business owners and their employees. For them, the new normal, devolved into a cliché, is brutal. But facts are facts and mitigation unpleasant.

Another worry: all the scientists, the infectious disease experts, virologists and physicians who haven’t been muzzled by the White House warn/confirm that this virus isn’t going away anytime soon. The “relaxation” of rules may be temporary. Reinstatement will be harder and more discouraging once the horse is out of the barn, sort of like cancer returning after a remission the patient hoped would be permanent.

In the case of coronavirus, seems Chicken Little was right. The sky really is falling. For sure, this makes us appreciate what we’ve lost: simple things like taking flowers from the garden or a slice of homemade pie to a nursing home resident. Like a Little League baseball game or a kids’ birthday party. Like a church picnic where fear of the potato salad now seems quaint. When bleach removed Popsicle stains, not a virus lingering on countertops. When a summer cold was just that, not the beginning of the end.

So far, Moore County has been fortunate; infection/death rates from coronavirus are relatively low. But when Dr. Fauci says the worst is yet to come, I listen. I can do without July 4th fireworks, the gym, grocery shopping during peak hours, at least for a while longer. Because never has the “ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure” been more applicable, especially since there’s no cure, no vaccine and no firm projections on when either will be widely available.

Contact Deborah Salomon at debsalomon@nc.rr.com.

(4) comments

Elizabeth Leonow

Thank you, Deborah, for your thoughtful, mature, respectful comments. I appreciate all that you said and stand for. Stay safe and healthy.

Cheryl George

No, I am not ready to accept this as our new normal. I agree with Peyton, we do not need politicians telling us how to live. We need to focus our money and efforts on protecting the vulnerable and let everyone else get back to work.

Kent Misegades

Other than for the Chicken Littles and Sheeple who chose to remain frightened, the only New Normal is the booming Trump economy from earlier this year that is sure to return. Real Americans are always underestimated in their ability to deal with challenges. Just get the nanny state out of the way and we’ll once again cleanup its mess.

Peyton Cook

The common citizens in the United States have more sense on handling their lives than most politicians. All jobs are essential to someone. Even the small business owner’s job is essential, They have bills to pay like those of us who are retired.

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