1. The new abnormal. By next month, the number of new cases could be quite low across much of the United States. But that won’t mean life can return to normal. The virus won’t have disappeared, and a return to normal activity would spark new outbreaks.
At that point, restaurants may reopen — but with people sitting only at every other table. Offices may reopen — but with workers alternating between on and off days, as has happened in parts of Asia. Large gatherings where people come in close contact, like sporting events, concerts and conferences, could still be a long time off. “That’s going to be hard,” Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told me, “and I don’t know that most Americans have come to grips with that.”
2. Testing, testing, testing. Even a partial return to normal life will require tremendous amounts of testing — testing of anyone who develops potential symptoms as well as random testing to know where hot spots are developing. The United States remains behind on testing and will need to continue catching up in coming weeks.