Is the pandemic over? We asked an economist, an education expert and a public health researcher for their thoughts


But for many Americans who have long returned to their pre-Covid-19 activities and are now returning to the office, the warnings may ring true.

The problem is that what feels like “back to normal” can differ from person to person, depending on the individual’s situation and the criteria by which the pandemic is judged to be over. The interview asked three scholars from different parts of US society affected by the pandemic — public health, education and economics — to assess the extent of the pandemic in their world. This is what they said:

Lisa Miller, adjunct professor of epidemiology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

President Biden has answered the question of whether the pandemic is over with a clear “yes”, but this is not a matter of black and white.

It’s true, thanks to vaccines and widespread immunity to infections, the US is in a very different place than it was even a year ago. But as an epidemiologist, I believe that 350 to 400 deaths per day in the US and hundreds per week in other countries of the world continue to be a pandemic.
I understand the need for Biden as a public figure to try to summarize where the country is and provide some hope and reassurance, but public health experts still cannot predict how the virus will change and evolve. These mutations may make the virus less dangerous, but the next variant may also be more harmful.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you call the current situation – COVID-19 still poses a significant risk to the world. Pandemic or not, it is important to continue investing in the development of improved vaccines and strengthening the preparedness of medical and public health systems. As COVID-19 progresses, decision makers risk losing sight of these important goals.

READ MORE: How do pandemics end? History suggests that diseases disappear

Economy: back to a new normal?

William Hauk, associate professor of economics at the University of South Carolina

As an economic researcher, I can talk about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and its lasting effects.
And the good news is that the worst of the pandemic’s impact on the economy ended some time ago. After reaching a post-war high of 14.7% in April 2020 as the ravages of the pandemic took their toll, the unemployment rate has been at or below 4% for all of 2022. Notably, in the August employment report, total US employed workers surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

Although the labor market has largely recovered, there are still economic effects of the pandemic that will be felt by the US for a long time.

There are still supply chain difficulties in some key areas, such as computer chips. Although we would expect a stronger recovery in this area, geopolitical issues such as the war in Ukraine continue to cause problems. As a result, a full recovery may not occur for some time and may hinder efforts to combat higher inflation.
Finally, many Americans are re-evaluating their work-life balance due to the pandemic. Aggregate workforce numbers suggest the “Big Resignation” may be one more job change. However, the rise of “quiet quitting” — the phenomenon where workers limit their productivity and don’t “go beyond” it — may lead many to conclude that workers are not as motivated as they were before COVID. 19

So, even if the “pandemic” phase of COVID-19 is over for the economy, the rise of a new normal could be seen as the beginning of an “endemic” effect. That is, we are no longer in a state of emergency, but the “normal” we are returning to may differ from the pre-COVID world in several ways.

READ MORE: How not to be hostile about COVID — advice from a psychologist

Schools: The pandemic increased the gaps

Wayne Au, professor of education at the University of Washington, Bothell

While it is true that public schools have largely returned to “normal” operations in the absence of mandatory masking, the use of high-stakes tests to measure teaching and learning, and face-to-face attendance policies, schools are not done. the pandemic
Many students are living with the trauma of the pandemic at home — from the death of friends and family, the impact of prolonged COVID, isolation and anxiety from parental job insecurity, and unequal access to health care. since they are going to classes today.
Many students are having to relearn how to get along with each other personally and in social and academic settings. Additionally, students from low-income families are still trying to overcome the effects of inadequate access to resources and technology at home during distance schooling.
Gaps in educational outcomes right now are the same as they were before the pandemic and appear at the intersection of race, class, and immigration. In the same way that the pandemic has exacerbated socio-economic inequalities in general, it has also exacerbated existing educational inequalities.
Additionally, pandemic-related tensions among teachers and districts have led to staff shortages across the country, creating greater instability in schools and classrooms for learning.

These problems have been exacerbated by the pandemic and could affect students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, for years to come.

READ MORE: How the pandemic changed what it means to have a “good death.”

Wayne Au is affiliated with Rethinking Schools. Lisa Miller and William Hauk do not work for, consult with, receive stock in, or receive funding for any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic designation.
Republished under a Creative Commons license The conversation.