FILE – In this Wednesday, April 5, 2017, file photo, Dr. Scott Gottlieb speaks during his confirmation hearing before a Senate committee, in Washington, as President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration. On Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, FDA Commissioner Gottlieb said the administration is opening a new front in its efforts to reduce high drug prices by increasing competition, focusing on medicines so complex to make that they don’t face generic competition promptly, if ever. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Have you found yourself matching your mask to your outfit? Is a surgical face-cover becoming a part of your daily garb?
On Sunday, Trump’s former FDA chief, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, predicted that — given our pandemic revolution — masks may soon become “fashionable.”
These days, Scott serves on the White House’s “Opening Our Country Council,” and he believes that, as America reopens, it’s going to be a whole new ball game. There may be a second wave of COVID-19, but cities will be better prepared. However, in that case, social distancing will still need to be implemented:
“I’m really hopeful that we’re going to have a much different set of tools, and we can mitigate really large outbreaks, or certainly epidemic spread again. But there is a possibility that you’re going to see sizable outbreaks within cities, and you’re going to have to adopt some element of social distancing within those cities.”
And there may be spots of small deconstruction:
“You’ll see, maybe, schools close for a week or two. You can see public transportation closed or…reduced schedules in cities. You can see orders for businesses to try to allow employees to telework. Maybe closing indoor spaces that are for entertainment only, like bars and restaurants and movie theaters. Those are all possibilities if you have a city that’s having a sizable outbreak.”
Scott told Ben the only full kibosh is a vaccine. Short of that, I guess, we’ll have to keep on fighting like a boxer — covering our face and serving punches against our foe when and where we can:
“This is gonna be a constant challenge. I don’t think this goes away until we get to a vaccine. I think there’s always going to be cases, I think you’re going to see spikes in cases and flare-ups that are going to be on a regional basis. Every part of the country is vulnerable to an outbreak.”
But the doctor also believes there’ll be a substantial shift in personal and collective health habits. And that bandana you’re wearing to the grocery store might become part of your cool look:
“I think certain things that we do are going to change. … I think masks are going to become more fashionable, people are going to be more conscious of hand-washing. I think a lot of business are going to advertise that they test their workers, or that they clean shared spaces. You’re going to see airlines talking about what they do on hygiene related to travel — Ubers maybe are going to do that.”
Scott surmises the virus is a long-term game-changer. He compared the lasting effect to that of September 11th:
“After 9/11, we had certain security features that just didn’t go away. We never took our shoes off in airports, we never handed in ID cards when we went into buildings. There’s going to be certain things that change around society that we never did before that we’re going to do now, going forward, because of our heightened awareness of the risk of spread.”
In Dr. Gottlieb’s view, we’re inadvertently building a healthier society, even apart from the coronavirus:
“The good news, if there is any, is that we’re going to get some benefits for that. Not just in terms of reduced risk of coronavirus, but we’ll probably have shortened flu season. We’ll probably have less death and disease from flu, because all the things we’ve done to cut down the risk of coronavirus are going to cut down the risk of transmission of flu.”
And less flu means mo’ money:
“If we can cut down on the rates of flu transmission, that’s going to have some real economic benefits. It’s going to be captured in the form of significant productivity improvements that are going to be measurable.”
It sounds as if COVID-19 has split time in half.
How are things going to change? What about socializing? Will the bar scene be filled with a sea of masks? You can’t drink with your face tarped.
In the early months of back-to-business, I’m predicting a sizable reduction in clubby one-night stands.
And dating may not be quite the same for a time.
Then again, America is bursting at the seams to return to normal. I’m not sure how long people can stay careful, once they’re accustomed to the viral threat.
What do you see an effect of all this, 3 months, 6 months, a year from now? Lets us all know in the Comments section.
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