COVID-19 pandemic, we bid thee farewell


All high school students remember the experience of “going to school” during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sleeping through morning classes on Zoom, completing asynchronous classwork and eventually making the transition to the hybrid model integrated into our routines. 

It has been almost two years since schools reopened completely and we returned to our familiar normality before the infamous shutdown of March 2020.

On May 11, the Biden administration announced the expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This just means that, there are now changes in the data the CDC collects and in health care coverage. COVID-19 is now officially considered in the same category as other respiratory illnesses. 

The public health emergency was first announced in 2020 during the Trump administration, despite the former President’s claims that the virus was a “hoax”, crafted by the Democratic party to thwart his presidency. 

This deeply polarizing rhetoric engulfed American media. During those three turbulent years, Americans were overwhelmed with constant clashes between their leaders and heated discourse playing out on the national stage.

Fueled by Trump’s narrative, the politicization of the virus and science in general, became incessantly more dangerous. It was routine to hear about the latest disparagement the former President directed at doctors and medical professionals. 

In an increasingly divided political climate, simple precautions one took to protect themselves became sources of hostility, to the point where there were instances of people on both sides being attacked in public. 

Simultaneously, hate crimes against the Asian American community skyrocketed due to Trump’s various racially charged comments about China, COVID-19’s country of origin.   

As a country, we cannot fully return to pre-pandemic circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a major cultural shift and deeply affected the very fabric of America.  

Yet, the world is seemingly making its natural return to the life we knew three years ago. The daily reminders of the virus’ daunting presence that were our “new normal”, such as masking at all times in public and diligently practicing social distancing, are part of a period we have put behind us. 

Now, being required to quarantine for five days seems to be more distressing and inconvenient than the worry of being severely ill from COVID during the peak of the pandemic. 

It is a human truth that people are most personally affected by something when it connects to them directly. For those who are at higher risk for COVID-19 due to pre-existing conditions or those who have lost a loved one, it is impossible to forget the impacts the pandemic had.

Is the pandemic over? Technically speaking, yes. The government has announced the end of the COVID-19 emergency, masking in public places isn’t required anymore and the virus is not constantly at the forefront of most people’s minds, even though it very much still exists. 

The most recent outbreak of the virus at South impacted South Stage during the production of the spring play 9 to 5: The Musical. Cast members and others involved were quarantined, a reminder that protocols have stayed relatively constant. 

Despite the delays the virus caused, along with the lack of a director, the musical was put on as regularly planned. The cast rallied together to overcome their obstacles and continued the production themselves. 

Even though the legacy of the pandemic will never truly go away, the repercussions are apparent in the changes to daily life, as well as the division across the political spectrum on the national level. We cannot come back from the irreversible shift in the political climate. We now exist in a post-pandemic time: the new normal. With this newfound cultural transformation, we must restore unity in the United States and the entire world.

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