Getting to and Sustaining the Next Normal: A Roadmap for Living With Covid is a strategic roadmap for how Americans can get to and sustain the “next normal. It acknowledges that eliminating Covid-19 is not a realistic goal. Instead, it argues that the nation must plan to mitigate the effects of Covid-19, prepare for variants and possible other novel viruses, and construct a new normal in which endemic Covid-19 does not necessitate emergency measures and the massive societal disruptions endured these past two years.
The roadmap recognizes that the demands of Covid-19 on the economy, the nation’s children, parents, and vulnerable members, and the challenges posed by a virus that constantly surprises the experts, are unprecedented. Consequently, it offers comprehensive but practical advice regarding masks, vaccines, testing, schools, public health communication, and returning to work. Key provisions of the new recommendations include:
- Shift focus from Covid-19 to all respiratory viral illnesses (influenza, RSV) with the goal of not surpassing the worst flu season in annual deaths.
- Expect fewer deaths from Covid-19 in 2022 than in each of the two previous years; even the pessimistic model projects about half as many deaths.
- Create a Federally funded public dashboard that shows all key metrics for local communities to guide lifting or imposing restrictions.
- Start new initiatives to develop new, more effective therapeutics and vaccines.
- Direct the EPA and OSHA to develop new standards to improve air quality; direct states and localities to use ARP funds on ventilation and air filtration at schools and public buildings.
- End school-based quarantines; establish a policy that schools should be last to close and first to open.
- Create a unified scientific and regulatory response to Long Covid-19, including funding a significant program of research and providing disability benefits to sufferers.
- Codify new telemedicine regulations to maximize ease for health care providers to operate across the country; invest in the mental health of the health care workforce.
- Invest in a massive upgrade of the public health surveillance and data and analytical infrastructure.
- Fund research to better understand Covid-related health disparities and begin to address them by leveraging infrastructure of faith-based communities and creating a permanent cadre of embedded community public health workers.
The roadmap was authored by 53 leading scholars and experts — including six of President Biden’s sixteen-member Covid-19 Advisory Board, advisors to Democratic and Republican presidents, and some of the world’s leading infectious disease researchers.
The report received support from the Colton Foundation, the Covid Collaborative, and The Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute.