07 July 2020

We have a bit of a drop in temperatures, even a few heavy showers. But summer, nevertheless.
After the last month's heavy cluster of infections in the meat packing plant and the expected media frenzy about animal welfare and underpaid seasonal workers from Eastern Europe, we wake up to the news that in a neighbouring town, several members of the local Baptist church got symptoms and the entire congregation has been tested and all (!) are positive. All the singing and praising, well done, 500+ people are now in quarantine.

My father has been moved to a geriatric intermediate care facility for the next whatever how many weeks. He is still angry but slowly realising that he has to work on his cunning and charm to make do. The virus restrictions are complicating matters, he thinks we are all scared ninnies but has resigned to play along for a while. Anyway, picture a 91-year old in bed, unable to stand or walk for the next 12 or so weeks if at all, with his phone in one hand and his tv remote control in the other. He has a nice sunny room with a balcony all by himself, meals are served at his wish and a string of physiotherapists, doctors and carers are coming and going, like a hen house, he tells me.
When I call him, I don't get a word in one way or another, I listen until he declares the call finished and afterwards I search my soul for feelings.

Here is a picture of the cycle path along the river, looking north. That spiky church tower in the distance on the left, that's as far as I'll cycle, then I am almost home.

A few weeks ago, one of our big weekly papers asked seven leading experts in the fields of virology and epidemiology (from Germany, the UK and the US) six questions on the corona pandemic.

The last and sixth question was:

When do you think our life will be the same as it was before the pandemic?

These are the answers.

Expert no. 1: I wish I could answer that. I'm afraid we'll have to live with restrictions for quite a while. It will probably only be really normal again if we have an approved vaccine and a good part of us has been vaccinated.

Expert no. 2: Only when we have a vaccine and enough people have been vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. But I also want to ask people to think about what kind of normalcy we want to return to. In many countries, a large number of older people have died in care facilities. I want to ask people to think about the circumstances that led to it. This also includes the underlying problem of neglecting older people. As a society, we can and should do better.

Expert no. 3: The corona pandemic has made many people aware that, despite technological developments, there can still be uncontrollable events that come from outside bringing, in addition to significant medical consequences, also economic and social cuts. A bit of the "lightness of being" has been taken away from modern society.

Expert no. 4: Never.

Expert no. 5: I believe and hope that in some areas, our life will not be the same as it used to be. Perhaps in the future there will be less travel, less presence culture, fewer meetings and more home office and overall improved local structures? The pandemic has shown many inequalities and many weaknesses in our existing systems and I think it should serve as a wake-up call.
I think that many of the good things in life, like close social contacts, being with a lot of people, festivals, big weddings, going out, going out to eat, celebrating, will probably only be possible with a vaccine with the "old" lightheartedness.

Expert no. 6: I think the pandemic will have a lasting impact on our social interactions, on closeness and distance to other people, and on attitudes towards hygiene in our lives. People will be more careful with each other for a very long time, many will avoid mass events for some time and travel differently. We will be ready to invest a larger proportion of our economy to prepare and prevent further pandemics, which will affect different professional groups. Hopefully there will be an intensive debate about media, information, influence and truth - and there will be a fresh exploration of the basis on which social decisions are made and should be in the future.

Expert no.7: Life goes on. After this pandemic, we will have developed a new culture of dealing with each other that will change us in the long term. I sincerely hope that as part of this new culture we will be able to redevelop ease and impartiality.


  1. I believe they are all basically saying, "Never," and for many of them that would be a good thing. At least as to attitude and actions. And I agree.

  2. I don't see us returning to the old normal, at least not until there is a vaccine which may not be possible since they are finding that the antibodies fade after 2 - 4 months. and I don't see humans getting smarter about their behavior, witness the church and every member getting infected.

    I so relate to your feelings or lack thereof about your father.

  3. I don't see a return to normal until there is a vaccine, and even then this mutating little beast might just really outdo us.
    I'm glad you're getting in a good and beautiful bike ride there. It's the best balance to these challenging times.

  4. I like expert no. 2's answer. I think we DO have to rethink what kind of normalcy we want. It's a great opportunity to address flaws in our society!

    That is a CRAZY story about the church. I've heard this virus spreads easily, but I've never heard of a situation like that. I guess God doesn't offer protection!

    I wish I could even talk to my mother on the phone. She's gotten to where she doesn't answer when we call. She can't really communicate verbally anymore, and maybe telephones are just too taxing. I can see how having a hyper-verbal parent would be problematic too, though!

    (An aside: Have you watched the German TV show "Dark"? Dave and I are watching it. We like it but it's SO hard to keep all the characters straight!)

  5. I hope all goes well for your father, your description of your relationships says so much in so few words. And expert number 4 has it exactly right.

  6. p.s. thanks for the beautiful view of the river!

  7. I think things have changed irrevocably. Except people aren't being nearly careful enough so in my neck of the woods, we are going to be in great danger for a long while.