Realistic Expectations for the Future of COVID-19


The cumulative impact of North Carolina citizens staying home and implementing strict hygienic measures to prevent infection has been significant and successful. Together, we have prevented, to this juncture, a spike in infections severe enough to potentially overwhelm our healthcare system. The goal of mitigation measures is not to eliminate COVID-19 but to prevent a catastrophic surge in cases by working to slow the rate of spread. So far, so good.

Here’s what you need to know moving forward:

This will be a marathon, not a sprint. COVID-19 remains a serious threat. Until a vaccine is developed or a therapeutic agent is discovered, COVID-19 will continue to circulate here at home and around the world. Most epidemiologists (and other experts, from pandemic historians to physicians) agree that, in all likelihood, we will experience a sort of roller coaster, with incidence of COVID-19 waxing and waning throughout 2020 and 2021, optimistically.

We each have a role to play and a job to do. All of us must remain vigilant in practicing the critical skills we’ve honed in 2020: staying home when we are (even just a little bit) sick, frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, regular disinfection of high-touch surfaces, social distancing, restricted travel and mask wearing. It is imperative to avoid the temptation of complacency.

We are all in this together. Life has changed, for all of us. But, as humans do, we will move forward, together. Easing of restrictions must be undertaken in a cautious and methodical manner. Data must be carefully collected and trending meticulously followed to allow for the rapid identification of the earliest signals of local outbreaks. Governments and citizens must remain at the ready to revert to strict mitigation efforts. As a nation and as a global community, it is imperative that we communicate, share knowledge, ethically distribute resources, manage economies, offer support, and uphold human rights.