Normalcy ahead–but when?    

Right now people around the world are having to choose between two goods–whether it is to interact with others (e.g.making a wage or babysitting the grandkids) or to avoid a contact that might spread COVID-19. 

Most of us make trade-offs–I’m willing to go to the post office, but not if there’s a line.. It can be a tougher decision for those who want their families fed and housed as well as safe. 

But a few see this crisis as posing a choice between good and bad–exercising liberty or losing rights. 

They call themselves patriots while constantly battling their government, even when it’s acting to protect health and safety. Over a thousand showed up at the Capitol Friday to protest Gov. Little extending stay-at-home orders. They posed on the Capitol steps with big guns while real patriots monitored respirators and got groceries for their neighbors. 

Five Republican state legislators attacked the Governor’s orders; Rep.Heather Scott claimed people were comparing Brad Little to Hitler. 

Nationally, the rallies that pitted Republican protesters against Democratic governors got more attention. 

Stay-at-home directives, however, are not a partisan issue. A Pew Research poll released last Thursday indicated that two-thirds of Americans–including a majority of Republicans–fear that state governments will lift restrictions on public activity too quickly. 

Idaho is a prime example that stay-at-home orders work. The number of new cases daily peaked at 63 to 70 from March 13 to March 25 and has been 12 or under for the past week. U.S. numbers, on the other hand, have not dropped, but stayed around 30,000 new cases a day in recent weeks. (Admittedly, the shortage of tests affects Idaho’s numbers, but that was as great a problem March 25 as it is today.) 

So restricting activity pays off. But when will it end?    

ABC News released a poll Friday that showed only 31% of Americans whose lives have changed due to COVID-19 restrictions believe we will return to normalcy by June 1. About 75% of those polled–66% of Democrats and 93% of Republicans–believe life will be back to normal by the end of summer. 

And that’s looking very possible this week.  

 Gilead Sciences is conducting studies with 4000 COVID-19 patients around the world using a drug–remdesivir–developed to fight SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) during an epidemic in 2002-2003. 

Reports are expected later this month, but last week a tape from an in-house report at the University of Chicago was leaked. It indicates only two of their study’s 125 participants  died. Most went home within a week.

Having a drug that has already undergone safety tests and been approved for marketing could immediately change the timeline for return to normalcy.  

We may get a similar jump on prevention measures this year. According to Regulatory Focus, more than 40 projects worldwide are working on a vaccine. Getting one from lab to market is said to take 18 months if everything goes right. 

But there is a vaccine already in clinical trials. BCG is an immune system booster developed to prevent tuberculosis (TB). Studies in recent years have indicated it is also effective against acute respiratory infections and sepsis.  

And now one quick review indicates fewer COVID-19 cases in areas where children were vaccinated against TB. Blind studies–where some health workers receive BCG and others a placebo–are getting underway in Australia and the Netherlands.  

Patience–and consideration for others–will pay off once again.