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How do we make post-pandemic life feel safe and normal again?

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Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic Oct 14, 2020
How should cities adapt to make post-pandemic life safe? How should we change our society in order to give ourselves a safe semblance of comfortable normalcy?
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Safe and Normal again?

Suchinder Paul Singh Dhillon Jan 24, 2021
I don't think safe and normal by their textbook definition will be reached again, nor do I think we should try to attain those. New safe and new normal by all means, but in the former safe and normal world, we were also unprepared and regularly partaking in actions that left us more vulnerable to a crisis such as the pandemic. I would think a better question is either "how close can we get to normalcy and still be safe?" or "how would we re-engineer our society in order to give ourselves a safe semblance of comfortable normalcy?" P.S. I'm new here so if I posted this in the wrong section, I apologize.
Manel Lladó Santaeularia
Manel Lladó Santaeularia4 months ago
Hi Suchinder Paul Singh Dhillonr! You posted in the right place and your point is very interesting. I agree that the pre-pandemic world was blatantly and dangerously unprepared to deal with any kind of relevant crysis. A lot of experts had already said that the next big pandemic was close and still no government took serious steps to avoid it or make it easier to deal with. Trump's administration even disregarded the Pandemic Playbook left by the Obama administration as soon as they arrived in the White House, resulting in complete incompetence and lack of preparation when the pandemic started. I think this is the first thing that will (or at least should) significantly change in the post-pandemic future.

I also think a lot of our habits will change, at least partially. I think it will be less common to greet people with hugs and especially kisses. In some countries you kiss people on the cheeks when you get introduced to them, being complete strangers. I'm inclined to think that this will change and people will be smart/scared enough to not go back to the same old habits again.

On a similar note, I believe many people will feel less comfortable with extremely-crowded events like parties, concerts and stuff like that. This may change the way these events are organized (maximum capacity, distance between atendees).

Time will tell how we will adapt, but I surely hope we will have learnt something from this.
Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic5 months ago
Hi Suchinder Paul Singh Dhillon, welcome:) I fully agree. I have modified the session to include your suggestion

Is vaccination not enough?

Povilas S
Povilas S Mar 11, 2021
I don't know why, but people seem to be very pessimistic when it comes to talking about the end of the pandemic. Even when vaccinations have started on a large scale and it's only a matter of time when the required number of vaccinated people to form herd immunity will be reached, many still talk like it's going to last forever.

Sure there are still risks - there are new strains of the virus that are more resistant to current vaccines, it's not entirely clear how fast does the virus mutate and how often we might need to re-vaccinate people, but the general trend so far is promising. Israel is an example country that has already vaccinated more than half of its population and is swiftly easing the pandemic restrictions. Since so many people are already inoculated with two vaccine shots there, quite reliable data about the efficiency and safety of the vaccine is available.

Furthermore, scientists seem to be positive about the prospects of vaccination despite the emerging new strains. Already existing vaccines provide protection against new covid variants, just with a lower effectiveness rate. Furthermore, they can be updated and adapted to effectively target the new strains. Why aren't we then likewise positive?

This is not to say that after vaccination we should let loose and forget all the safety measures, no, we learned the lesson, and preventive measures should be continued where necessary. Small outbreaks are likely, the need for revaccination is likely, but to say that people won't be able to come back to normal life as it was before I think is an overstatement. Safety is above all a psychological condition, let's not think ourselves into the opposite without a substantial reason.

One thing that is truly sad is the poor countries not being able to get vaccines while rich ones are swiftly vaccinating their inhabitants. But this is a part of global inequality which is another problem. Hopefully, developed countries will provide the necessary number of vaccines to developing ones.


Illegal to be sick in public

Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic Jan 25, 2021
Before covid, when people were sick it was normal to go to work and public places like shopping while shedding the virus. The only thing stopping them was if they were too sick to do it. Whether this will make others sick didn't cross people's minds because diseases are natural and normal. Sick individuals felt like their obligation to work is greater than their obligation to keep others from not getting sick. Staying at home because of a runny nose or mild coughing was seen as a sign of weakness.

When seeing someone who obviously shows signs of disease in public, the most people did was to try and avoid that person. Nobody felt they should step up and tell the person this is not acceptable. This is about to change. Being sick in public will become frowned upon if not even illegal.

Covid gave humanity a crash course and a new perspective on virology.
Anja M
Anja M5 months ago
I think this is important to mention, but I want to shed another light on it.
Capitalistic structures made things worse in this domain, since people would for various reasons find it even easier not to skip a day on their job, but this is not a primary problem. At least where I live, it is frequently, like you said, a sign of weakness if you don't go to: kindergarten, school, job, if you e.g. "only" have a runny nose, slight cough, etc. It is one thing to learn to become tougher for your own sake, but completely another to have this as a lifestyle. Not that everyone behaves like this, but it is definitely something enough spread culturally that it shouldn't be ignored.
I think it is a lack of some domestic culture to attend school, work, and events if you are sick. In a healthy sense (pun not intended), corona should help us cultivate this sense of care for the others if we are sick. Another point that came to light for me a couple of years ago is that I notice this in companies much, especially during the winter. A substantial number of companies have their own central ventilation/heating system, so the air flows in circle in it. In those "closed" circles, it is very easy for a pathogen to stick in and in time affect more people. In addition to that, people sometimes forget to open the windows, as they usually use a balcony or go outside for a break, so this is quite empirically proven, to say so.

The golden middle should be masks, when e.g. you feel well enough to work. I am quite certain a spread of seasonal flu would be diminshed if people would wear masks. It is funny though how Western culture would find Chinese, Japanese, etc.wearing a mask funny for that, but now we very much understand this behaviour and comply to it. And add pollution to that, that we usually forget about, and you have additional motives to wear one.
So, all in all, I hope we develop much more sense and active thinking about disease spreading, without installing paranoia in it.

Temperature checkpoints at public places

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Feb 23, 2021
Temperature checkpoints at entrances to airports, train and bus stations, maybe malls.

A global app that tells you the proximity to positive individuals

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Feb 23, 2021
The app will use your location and notify you if you are within an X-meter radius of an infected individual. To maintain authenticity, the government bodies will set the "active" status on an individual based on their test report. The app will be updated and the other nearby users will get a notification. The users can then choose to change their location. The app will not disclose the details of the active individuals; it will simply signal if they are in your proximity. Only the state or the concerned organization/ department can remove the status based on the person's test report.
Povilas S
Povilas S3 months ago
It's not a bad idea per se, but I think it's too complicated and perhaps unnecessary to implement on a practical level. First, this is easily bypassable by simply using another smartphone or changing your sim card. It's not very nice to be a dark sheep in the crowd and many people would try to avoid this. And not only because of revealing that they are infected to others, but also because of the obligatory tracking. Many people already resist quite harshly to much softer preventive means like masks, so imagine the reaction to this.

Not disclosing the identity of the person wouldn't help much, I think, because it would be obvious in situations where there are rather few people around and a sick person is approaching someone, etc. In order for an app to work, it would have to map people in one way or another and this would reveal sick individuals when comparing that map to real life. Masks and social distancing seem to be enough in this regard, I think such precise tracking would only complicate things.
Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 months ago
Povilas S I agree. What if the app only covers public areas like malls, offices, parks, etc. that can get easily crowded? The app will not reveal the location of the "active" individuals in other places like their homes and on the roads where the probability of transmission is very low. The app will go silent once you leave the "red zones" and become active upon entering one.

Also, although a sick individual is easy to recognize, an asymptomatic one is not. However, they can still transmit the disease. Another way to avoid revealing the individuals is to slightly broaden the "proximity radius".
Povilas S
Povilas S3 months ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni Good points. But if the app shows infected people in more crowded areas then there's another problem (ironically) - how will you move in the crowd to avoid people who are infected? Let's say the app shows three infected people around you in the crowd - it will become a puzzle of navigation. Will you go to the other side of the room/public square? This would be a natural tendency, even if a few meters distance is considered enough.

Imagine it's an event, a public talk, or a concert and there are few infected people in the crowd, naturally, all people who are checking those applications on their phones would gather in one corner of the room (or an outside area) which would become crammed with people, leaving infected individuals standing in another corner, center, etc. and again obviously exposed. If it's a shopping mall, then people would go running around from the infected ones in a sort of game manner. Some parts will get empty, some overcrowded, etc. Or alternatively, all people would just leave the place, a gathering would get dispersed. The entrepreneurs running shops/events would be very disappointed about such situations.

The best solution then obviously is for infected people to stay out of crowded places, including public events, concerts, shopping malls, etc. However, especially for someone who is asymptomatic, it's very tempting to attend and then we come to the various means people use to bypass such limitations.

Maybe an app could show the general risk level of certain places instead, meaning not referring to particular individuals, but assessing the status of a certain area by the number of infected individuals present there. If there's, for example, one infected individual in the concert or a supermarket, then many people would still go there, cause the risk of contracting the virus from that person is low (maybe knowing that they would then put on a mask, if it's not generally required, etc.). But if there are few of them, then the risk is substantial and many would choose to avoid it if it's not crucial for them to go. Also, the infected people themselves may choose to avoid places where some of the infected people are already present in order not to make the situation even worse.

The app may show the exact number of infected people in a certain area and then create an artificial border of the area according to how those people are dispersed there, but not show the exact whereabouts of those people. Or alternatively, it may show the level of risk of that area (e.g. green, yellow, red, etc.) according to the number of infected people present there, but not show the actual number of infected people. The standards for the risk levels could be set by the healthcare experts, depending on the size of the area, the total number of people present there, the number of infected people present there, how easy is to move in and out of the area, how easy is to move within it, etc.

This last approach seems the best for me. I think a certain level of not knowing is required for the app to be accepted and relevant for everyone. What do you think?

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