Leonard Zwelling

In this op-ed in The New York Times, dated September 15 by Aaron E. Carroll sent to me by a blog reader, the author claims that the United States (maybe the world?) won’t get back to normal after the covid-19 crisis even after the advent of an effective, safe vaccine. Carroll claims that masks will still be the fashion statement of the year through 2021 and he backs his statements up with warnings from Tony Fauci. I think he’s wrong, not in his science, but in the outcome.

First, I believe that there will be an effective vaccine found, developed and distributed by mid-year 2021. I think that most westernized governments will make the shots available to everyone for little or no cost and that despite some reservations, more than 50% of the population will get vaccinated. When the vaccinated are added to the covid recovered, we may be close to herd immunity.

Second, this will not be the end of covid-19. People will still get sick (think measles, cervical cancer and HIV) despite known risk factors and strategies to minimize the risk like vaccines.

Third, once someone gets vaccinated against the coronavirus, he or she will act as though he or she is immune (see Donald Trump). This is just human nature. If you think the government (regardless of who is president) can tout a new vaccine and the need to take it and then expect everyone to continue wearing masks and socially distance, you don’t know Americans very well. They expect a payoff for following orders—no masks and party on.

It was said by Mary McGrory after JFK’s assassination that America will never laugh again. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Mary we will laugh again. It’s just that we’ll never be young again.” That was all wrong. Ten weeks after Dallas, the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. We were young again.

After 9/11, America would never be the same. That is true, but we didn’t hide from the world then any more than we had after Pearl Harbor. We are a resilient people and we will bounce back from the threat that has been the coronavirus, especially given this has happened before (1918) and America recovered sufficiently to go to war, enter the Roaring Twenties and then the Great Depression. There will always be ups and downs. The same is true now.

The coronavirus and, more importantly, our terrible response to it, have dealt a crippling blow to America. Perhaps no one will pay a bigger price than Donald Trump who I really think would have coasted to re-election on the strength of the booming economy had it not been for the pandemic and his lame response to it. Like it or not, governments first have to protect their people. Some world governments did (e.g., New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea) and the leaders of these countries ought to be retained. Donald Trump made a mess of the poor hand he was dealt and showed himself incapable of handling a crisis—exactly what was warned about him in 2015 and 2016. After all, he’s a TV game show host not a leader.

America will get back to normal and do so sooner than anyone predicts. The New York Stock Exchange will continue to roar even if it benefits Joe Biden now not Donald Trump. Mr. Trump will undoubtedly be prosecuted in New York and will probably go to jail at some point. Amy Coney Barrett will begin her service on the Supreme Court in early November, hear the case on the ACA and join the 9-0 majority opinion that upholds the law because the individual mandate is severable from the rest of the law. If the GOP wants to overturn the ACA, it will need to do so in Congress, a Congress where they may not have majorities in either house.

These are my predictions. As such they are no more likely to be right than anyone else’s, but I seriously doubt that America will not be back to normal by Thanksgiving of 2021. Americans will not tolerate anything less.

The thinking goes as follows. We’ve been good. We’ve worn masks, socially distanced and washed our hands. We have been holed up at home waiting for the vaccine. Now it’s here and we are coming out to play. Like it or not. They played baseball and football after 9/11.

Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.

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