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Think back through the pandemic. Think about the moments that stand out as beacons in the haze — signposts of how it would change all of our lives.

Not all of these moments were clear at the time. China’s decision to shut down cities of millions of people in January was staggering, but to most Americans, this new coronavirus remained an ocean away, not something that would demand our own version of a lockdown.


Other moments form pits in our stomachs when we look back. Perhaps, for you, it’s when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touted it was developing its own test for SARS-CoV-2 instead of relying on international designs. Or when leaders in New York delayed containment plans as cases built. Or when President Trump embraced the unproven and ultimately fruitless hydroxychloroquine as a miracle drug.

Then there were moments when the new reality arrived with the subtlety of a sonic boom. Take March 11: Trump halted most travel from Europe. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they had Covid-19. The NBA suspended its season.

Now — with health authorities saying it may not be until at least the end of 2021 before there’s a degree of post-Covid normalcy in our lives — look forward. Imagine the next 15 months and what life will be like.

In this project, STAT describes 30 key moments, possible turning points that could steer the pandemic onto a different course or barometers for how the virus is reshaping our lives, from rituals like Halloween and the Super Bowl, to what school could look like, to just how long we might be incorporating precautions into our routines.


This road map is informed by insights from more than three dozen experts, including Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates, people on the frontlines at schools and hospitals, as well as STAT reporters. It largely focuses on the U.S.

Perhaps making forecasts during what’s habitually described as “unprecedented” is foolish. “I’m kind of done predicting — none of my predictions worked out for me,” Kelly Wroblewski of the Association of Public Health Laboratories said, with a resigned laugh, about when she thought the testing problems that have dogged us from the earliest days might get resolved. And indeed, some of the events will unfold in different ways and at other times than we’ve charted out.

Yet for all that’s caught us off guard about Covid-19, some factors — like how a virus spilled from animals and swept around the world — are straight out of pandemic playbooks. We can see the coming crossroads.

So many challenges still lie ahead. Flu season. An ongoing child care quandary. A tumultuous election and potential transition of power. Whoever wins, we’ll need them to shepherd a vaccine rollout — a logistical and public relations campaign without (here’s that word again) precedent.

“The virus is not through with us yet,” said family physician and epidemiologist Camara Phyllis Jones of Morehouse School of Medicine. “The virus has only one job. And that’s to replicate itself, and to go from person to person to person — and it doesn’t care which person.”

Throughout the pandemic, what’s maddened U.S. public health experts has been the nation’s inability and unwillingness to take the steps that could reduce illness and death, steps that other countries have used with success. Instead, we’re trying to force the activities — commerce, schools, and festivities — that controlling the virus in the first place would enable but that, in our case, are contributing to infection counts.

“There’s this attitude that public health measures are getting in the way of opening up the country,” Fauci, the country’s most prominent infectious disease expert, told STAT. “It’s exactly the opposite. In a prudent way, the public health measures are the gateway, the vehicle, the pathway to opening the country. That’s the point that gets lost in this that’s so frustrating.”

As Fauci monitors the coronavirus’ trajectory, so do the rest of us, wondering what other hallmarks the pandemic will soon touch — like Thanksgiving feasts. At Adams Turkey Farm in Westford, Vt., they’re anticipating this year selling fewer of their “signature” birds around 24 pounds — “Oh my gosh, they’re beautiful,” said owner Judy Adams — and more smaller birds. The holiday meal will still happen; there just might be fewer people squeezing around the table.

“We’ve weathered different things — certainly not a pandemic — but I just trust in the holiday, I trust in the turkeys,” Adams said. “But if this is the year that we make less money, well, that will be OK, and we will get through this.”

  • This is a repeat of the already proven false info in the video starring the duped female scientist who was fired years ago and leaped at the chance to get even with those above her. Who is responsible for taking down this false posting?

  • 1. You state that the 250,000 death milestone we will soon reach will be an undercount. Many doctors are being urged to list the virus as a cause of death even if it is a secondary or even more than that. I see no consistent nationwide attempt to record virus deaths. The undercount may acutally be an overcount.
    2. You pay no attention as to who or what caused this virus. A Chinese doctor trained in this area and familiar with the situation in Wuhan has stated that the virus was manmade in the virology lab in that city. If so, how it was released into the general population in Wuhan and subsequently all across the globe. what if a real investigation can be had that shows the Chinese government was responsible for releasing this plague? Will there be any repercussions for China?

    • “Many doctors are being urged to list the virus as a cause of death even if it is a secondary or even more than that. ”
      You have a problem with this scenario?
      What about this one [ which I think is far more common]:
      Suppose a person has a pre-existing condition, say heart disease; and they are on medication and coping.
      Then they get CV and die.
      Since they were coping before getting CV, it is the CV that killed them.
      To deny that is to say they died of heart disease and essentially deny that they ever had CV.
      So even having a pre-existing condition which weakens one, if that person is coping, the CV is THE cause. Even though heart disease could be called a complicating factor

  • Xorofas = Russian troll? Or just a Trump cool-aid consumer?
    Funny he/she/it accuses others of “parroting” when that is all they are doing themselves. Blame your opponent for your transgressions. A typical Trump trick learned from his odious mentor Roy Cohn. Trump’s entire career is marked by cheating and venality, yet here we are asked to believe that Gates and Faucci are the bad actors? Preposterous. Troll alert!
    Given Trump’s demonstrated lack of ethical values, it seems more likely that he has embraced Covid-19 as an expedient way to cull the population of those “losers” who are consumers of entitlement programs:
    the poor, the elderly, people of color and disabled vets. This strategy will allow the massive transfer of wealth by this admistration to the top 1% to continue unabated. Sadly it is working all too well!

  • You must provide some kind of proof for that statement or you have just inflated the terrify the masses with ridiculous conspiracy theories. By the way, I know there is research in the US involving using viruses as weapons. This is true in China and Russia as well. There is abundant proof of that. So just get some verifiable information out, not rants.

  • Like it’s all relative and will be going away with the antidote? NOT LIKELY. That’s a manufacturing of a Scriptwriter. Eventually it will die down as it mutates, yes. The article indicates. And later we’ll stop wearing face coverings and begin to hug and fornicate as maybe we used to…but, HOPE IS we’ll STOP consuming strange fruit, and learn to behave well in public…leaving the next 100 year group their turn at the wheel.

  • Ah, very good at parroting CNN talking points! In fact the best country of all was the one that did no containment – Sweden. And now the countries you are referring to that have done better with containment, now are in the middle of an infection rate even greater than that they thought they had “contained”. History will show that President Trump and his administration did the right thing by stopping international flights from China and then from infected areas in Europe. This administration utilized all the resources of the federal government to manufacture the protective clothing and masks that were so despirately needed, but depleted and not replaced by the previous administration. Finally it was this administration that green lighted and accelerated the research and production of a vaccine, even to the extent of funding manufacturing of stockpiles even before testing was completed to ensure adequate amounts of vaccine to distribute to American citizens. If you think that Biden could have even approached this effort and success you are delusional.

  • “Foreign Affairs” prediction, March, 2020, has been accurate ever since:

    “Development countries in terms of the ratio of household debt to household income—the role that private-sector debt plays in the U.S. economy makes it difficult to respond to a crisis like this one. This reality is thrown into sharp relief when contrasting the U.S. growth model with those of other countries…lack of shock absorbers is integral to the U.S. growth model, and under normal circumstances, it is a feature, not a bug. When systems such as the American one are hit by shocks, they tend to bail out their financial systems to keep credit flowing and let the real economy absorb the blow through unemployment and austerity policies. The assumption is that with no shock absorbers in place, prices and wages will adjust quickly, capital will be redeployed, and growth will return without the need for state intervention.”

    “The U.S. growth model is built in such a way that it simply cannot shut down without inflicting catastrophic damage on itself. Because the model is designed to adjust through reduced wages and employment rather than increased welfare outlays, political leaders can contemplate temporary unemployment benefits for a banking-induced shock, but not semipermanent cash transfers—which is what the British are doing—and a near-total collapse in asset values. The British solution is too politically toxic to be anything other than a short-term expedient in the American context. So, once it became clear that—at least according to the Imperial College London model—the epidemiologically correct response was to put the economy in hibernation for several months, U.S. leaders started looking for other solutions.”
    “The United States, with its 330 million people, 270 million handguns, 80 million hourly workers with no statutory sick pay, and 28 million medically uninsured, faces challenges quite unlike those in other countries. Putting the economy in a freezer for six months or longer would destroy what’s left of its social fabric along with its growth model. But restarting it could turn the pandemic into a plague that could cause as much damage as the freezer.


    Which of these unappealing paths is the United States most likely to take? Again, examining its underlying growth model is revealing. It suggests that the United States will temporarily bail out companies, partially support consumption, and abandon the lockdown as soon as it can. TRUMP AND THOSE AROUND HIM SEEM PERFECTLY WILLING TO GAMBLE A FEW MILLION LIVES TO SAVE THEIR (A$$)ETS, BETTING THAT THE HEALTH-CARE SYSTEM WILL ALWAYS BE ABLE TO CARE FOR THE ELITE.”

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