On To the Next Normal After COVID-19: Leading Health Experts Offer “Roadmap”

A comprehensive blueprint on how to be better prepared for the future as COVID-19 becomes endemic and the world faces future pandemics.

As Americans head toward the “next normal” after COVID-19, the lessons learned must be built upon and expanded to be better prepared for the future. To meet this need, a recently published comprehensive report, entitled Getting to and Sustaining the Next Normal: A Roadmap for Living with COVID, was authored by a team of 53 leading experts in public health, epidemiology, pharmacology, virology, immunology, health policy, communications, and other relevant fields. Former officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations were included in the team.

Key provisions of the new recommendations include shifting focus from COVID-19 to all respiratory viral illnesses; expecting fewer COVID-19 deaths than the previous 2 years; having the federal government create a public dashboard that shows all key metrics for local communities to guide lifting or imposing restrictions; and ending school-based quarantines including establishing a policy that schools should be last to close and first to open. (FIGURE)

“Americans are beyond tired of waking up to uncertainty about what the future holds thanks to a COVID-19 pandemic that feels never-ending. As the threat of Omicron fades and Americans are looking for direction, it’s time the country maps out a way forward so that people can start to live their lives in a next normal,” Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, who coordinated and authored the report, said in a statement.

The authors acknowledge in the roadmap that eliminating COVID-19 is not a realistic goal. But creating a new normal and planning for endemic COVID-19, other variants, and other novel virus pandemics as they arise are vital to eliminate the need for emergency measures and the massive societal disruptions endured these past 2 years.

“We can’t return to the world as it was before the pandemic, but there are concrete, measurable ways we can forge ahead and begin to understand this disease as just another seasonal virus,” Emanuel said. “The recommendations in this report can help us achieve that future and if they are implemented, Americans can begin to go about their daily lives without COVID-19 weighing heavily on their every thought and decision.”

"As an evolving humanity, endless known and unknown intrinsic and extrinsic factors are always attempting to breach and threaten to disturb the fragile balance of our health and the management of our healthcare," says Audrey Friedman, RN, BSN, CLNC, in response to the report. "COVID-19 has reminded us of that fragility and that the learning curves to identify, treat, control, mitigate, prevent, and identify potential future opportunities as well as threats to our health, must all happen at the same time, in the midst of suffering and expectations from our communities that we, as the experts, have the capability, the willingness, and the compassion to save them."