September 17, 2020
Dr. Jerome Adams
Former Surgeon General, United States
Many Americans are eager for a return to normalcy following the coronavirus pandemic. However, following CDC guidelines and other protocols to limit the spread of the virus have actually had a positive impact on community health. In an interview with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams discusses what the new normal might look like, and why it might be beneficial to carry over these new healthy habits in a post-pandemic world.
Coronavirus Safety Protocols Have Reduced the Impact of the Flu
“In some ways, I think we need to prepare for a new normal — and I know some people don’t like that terminology,” said Adams. “But … when you look at the Southern hemisphere of this country, they’ve had a particularly mild flu season.”
Dr. Adams noted that this is likely because people are finally taking the proper precautions that have been advised for decades to protect themselves from the flu.
“We probably should be thinking more intentionally about screening people when they come into buildings during flu season for symptoms, encouraging people to stay home, telling people to wear a mask during flu season if they think that they are sick or may have been exposed to someone,” he said.
Continuing Healthy Habits in a Post-Pandemic World
According to Dr. Adams, not all remnants of the coronavirus pandemic are here for the long term.
“As far as the wide mask-wearing, that will end when we get to a degree of herd immunity from the vaccine that allows us to stop transmission of this virus,” he said. “But again, I think it’s important to really look at some of the benefits that we’re doing right now, [such as having] hand sanitizer everywhere, more readily available.”
The new normal can also make communities and businesses more resilient in the face of illness: “Some of these things, we don’t want to go back to the old normal,” stressed Adams. “It costs every county across this country $2 million dollars per year in lost productivity and other expenses due to the flu.”
“I think it’s a very smart business decision to … continue some of these things moving forward to limit the spread of not just COVID, but flu,” he advised. “[These will] protect our people and, in turn, our ability to continue [to stay] up and running when we’re facing some of these threats moving forward.”
From the Series