A return to normal? Don’t bet on it

The tiny steps allowed on Friday are not even close to a return to normal. Such a return may never be possible.

A pandemic-controlled life in Virginia begins small steps towards a slow return to a way of life Friday that remains far from “normal’ and one that faces a swift set of more restrictions if the count of COVID-19 cases begins to rise.

The restaurants that may open Friday are only the ones that can provide outdoor dining. Nobody can be eating at tables inside. Indoor dining may or may not return in two weeks, depending on what happens with the monitoring of cases and deaths involving the Coronavirus.

Social distancing remains the rule and masks are required for those serving customers.

Most Virginians out of work remain unemployed. Some jobs will begin to slowly return, hopefully, but many businesses say they are not ready to reopen their doors until they are sure their employees and customers are safe. Some businesses may never reopen.

The effects of the virus are not going away. Galax’s iconic Fiddler’s Convention is canceled for this summer. So are Floyd’s Small Town events in Lineberry Park. The Friday Night Jamboree remains dark for the time being.

Some restrictions on court hearings change but the public at large is still not allowed in a courtroom — just lawyers, judges, bailiffs, court reporters, law enforcement officers, and members of the media. Defendants will appear via video in most cases.

Your barber or hairdresser might deal with your hair needs but only by appointment and only with social distancing and masks. Movie theaters remain closed. The Starlight Drive-In in Christiansburg hopes to open by the end of the month but restrictions will apply there as well.

“It is important to put this on the table: This virus may never go away,” says Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization.

America’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, told the Senate Wednesday said no vaccine will be in place in time for a new school year this fall and added that this is a “pathogen that continues to surprise and baffle the world’s learning scientists.”

“I think we better be careful, if we are not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” Dr. Fauci said. “Children, in general, do much, much better than adults and the elderly and particularly those with underlying conditions. But I am very careful and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease. And that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.”

Dr. Rick Bright, the whistleblower ousted by an angry president Trump, is set to testify before the Senate Thursday and plans to say:

If the United States does not step up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, Americans will suffer “unprecedented illness and fatalities,” and “2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history.”

Dr. Bright’s prepared remarks says “the Trump administration missed early warning signals” and his bosses at the Department of Health were “dismissive about my dire predictions” that led him to urge more production of masks, respirators and critical supplies.

HHS, he says, put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.”

In the meantime, the Office of Special Counsel has recommended Dr. Bright be reinstated while it conducts an official inquiry into his concerns.

Return to normal? Not even close.

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