The “new normal” is coming…slowly


TJ Lindstrom

The Quad at JCU, snowless.

TJ Lindstrom, Opinion Editor

It feels like spring again. In any other year, I’d be sad to see the snow melt so early, sad to see that pristine white give way to a muddy mess. But this year is different. For the first time, I’m happy to see it all go. 

I spent this last weekend walking around campus, coatless for the first time in months and at peace for the first time this winter. As I circled the quad, I realized it was the first time I’d seen it snowless since last year. I remembered sitting on the quad last fall, reading –– that feels like a different world now. But, this weekend, that day felt closer than it has in months. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a campus frozen in the winter of COVID-19. But, as with all winters, spring is soon to follow. 

On Sunday, following approval by the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention finally recommended Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the general public. The vaccine is the first in the United States to require only one shot and not require expensive freezers for storage. In short, it’s a game-changer. 

The best epidemiological modeling suggests COVID-19 infections and deaths will drop off substantially by summer, especially if we all continue wearing masks. Assuming all goes as planned, we seem poised for an almost normal fall. 

It’s hard to remember what normal feels like, though. I wrote my very first column as opinion editor on the Examen during COVID-19. My entire experience at The Carroll News (and about half of my experience at JCU) occurred in the context of COVID-19. 

Over this past year, I’ve learned about myself and the world. It wasn’t all bad. I spent more time with my family. I picked up some new hobbies. I went for a lot of walks

But, of course, that perspective comes from my little bubble. I was one of the lucky ones. More than 500,000 people died. Hundreds of thousands more were hospitalized. How do we move past that? How do we rebuild? What is normal now? I have no answers here. But, I for one am ready for what’s next. And what’s next is coming soon. 

That said, winter is not yet over. We’re bound to see some more snow. But spring is on its way. COVID-19 is not over. There’ll be more masks, more outbreaks and more deaths. But spring is on its way.