OPINION: COVID-19 is here to stay and we must change with it

Illustration by April Calvo/ The Et Cetera

Illustration by April Calvo/ The Et Cetera


The world is ending, or at least according to news headlines, politicians and pessimists. But what these headlines haven’t mentioned is the most important thing: COVID-19 is here to stay. The question is — are humans?

The answer to that question challenging to gauge because the world is vastly different than it was and it’s not going back. New questions emerge every day as the virus continues to evolve and new strains are discovered. 

However, the virus is not magically going to vanish, and our plan of attack as a nation needs to shift to match that fact.

According to the World Health Organization, over 5 million people have died from the virus. An even greater number of people have contracted the virus, with just around 355 million cases documented. 

But if the coronavirus is not going away, we must change the way that we view “normal” and learn to live safely in a world coinhabited by this virus.

One strategy could be an annual vaccine, similar to the way our society combats influenza.  

Another plan of action could be educating the population worldwide about wildlife disease and its effects on humans. 

Doctors are also questioning the importance of international travel and the possibility of a pause in unnecessary travel until everyone is fully vaccinated.

Although the virus is not going away, there are ways we can find a new groove, a new happiness, a new appreciation for life and most importantly, a new way to survive.

Some of these ways include creating art based on COVID-19 and the influence it has had or incorporating new patterns and rituals we would not otherwise partake in. We could also find some version of a healthy lifestyle by incorporating friends and laughter into daily routines and focusing on the positives. 

Some policy changes that could be made are updating the way COVID-19 is talked about in schools and an increase in benefits and paid sick leave in the workplace. 

There should also be an investment in future vaccines and stronger surveillance to better match vaccines with future strains. More resources should be devoted toward boosting global vaccine access and uptake.

Some people argue that COVID-19 is a hoax invented for a government agenda. However, I have witnessed what it does firsthand. A healthy and active good friend and mentor fell sick with the virus in early August and was gone before September. 

Although we do not fully understand everything about the virus, its effects — both mental and physical — continue to be proven real.

Therefore, the choices we make going forward and the progress that we expect must fall in line with the understanding there is no magical cure to a virus that has remained a lethal force.

As college students, our futures are waiting for us. We must decide what that future looks like, from what degree we choose, to which friends we hang out with, to where we go after this. We, as the future generation, are the ones who can make a new normal seem normal.