A Sobering Prognosis to End This First Tuesday of A.C. (After Corona)

Although it’s time for me to go to bed, I feel the need to share from the NY Times this sobering article predicting how long this period of Social Distancing may need to continue.

Before the key quotes from the more sobering article, a bit about the title of this post. I’ve taken it from Thomas Friedman’s commentary entitled “Our New Historical Divide: B.C. and A.C. – Before Corona and After Corona”

While it’s worth reading in full, the short version is that Friedman is looking at a number of “trends” currently unfolding. The one he concludes with is most significant:

Only generosity will save us. There are millions of business owners and employers out there who are invested in long-term assets that they were assuming would go up in value — a stock, a company, a home, a restaurant, a store — with borrowed money. That’s money that they can’t now repay.

Therefore, we not only need the Fed to backstop their banks to prevent a total meltdown, we not only need the banks to restructure their debts, we need to get fresh cash into the pockets of all their workers so they can eat after their last paycheck is spent. It is encouraging to see the administration and Congress moving rapidly to do just that.

The more we simultaneously tighten our culture and loosen our purses, the stronger and kinder society we’ll be A.C. — After Corona.

Let me take a calming breath before I share the key quotes from the article “The Corona Virus is Here to Stay, So What Happens Next?”

The article’s conclusions are not hyped hysteria as these are the authors and their sterling credentials:

Dr. Emanuel is an oncologist and medical ethicist, Dr. Ellenberg is a biostatistician, and Dr. Levy is an epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The second paragraph hits like a slap across the face:

Unfortunately, normal is a long way off. We need to be thinking in terms of months, not weeks. We need to stop picturing that ubiquitous “flatten the curve” chart and start imagining a roller coaster.


Predicting the possibility of more than one period of Social Distancing, the authors use an analogy:

Maybe the best analogy is pumping a car’s brakes on an icy road. Either doing nothing or slamming on the brakes leads to an accident. So we pump the brakes — pushing on the brakes, then easing up, and then applying them again — and after three or four times we slow down enough to stop.


The article does end on a “hopeful”(?) note:

On a positive note, each time the virus resurges after social distancing is relaxed, it will do so more slowly. But the flattened curve we are all hoping for — the one that is so critical to our health care infrastructure — will not actually be flat. It is more likely to be a series of ascents and descents, with dampened oscillations. So all of us — health care workers, policymakers and American citizens — need to get ready for a bumpy ride.


Time for bed now with prayers that I don’t dream of being on a roller coaster as each morning brings what feels like another plunge down a hill to places we’ve not been before.

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