What’s clear is that Normal isn’t coming back. With or without a vaccine, covid-19 is here to stay, probably indefinitely, according to a growing consensus of scientists. Management of this virus is the destination now. As doctors improve treatments — and people embrace best practices, wearing a mask and avoiding close encounters — we’re likely to see fewer cases of less severity. And a vaccine, once approved, will begin to make covid-19 less widespread or horrifying. But it won’t make it go away entirely. That’s the new reality.

Exceptions to this somewhat brighter scenario will continue to include people with preexisting conditions and the elderly, who are more vulnerable to grave illness or death. This is sad and difficult for those affected, but perfection is never an option.

The truth is we’ve reached a point where everyone needs to be an essential worker — for the sake of the economy, for everyone’s psychological well-being, for peace, for unity and sanity. We all need to refuel, while remaining vigilant, thoughtful and careful. This isn’t a political statement, even if Republicans are pushing school and Democrats, reacting to teacher unions, are leaning the other way. Just an obvious and neutral observation.