“I’m not sure we’re ever going back to normal circa 2019,” said Stephanie Silvera, epidemiologist and Montclair State University professor. “I think the wearing of masks during what will likely become cold, flu and COVID season is going to be the new normal; I think that’s good. There’s evidence that masks help with COVID, but our flu rates are down and our flu deaths are down.”
Silvera was part of a panel on Chat Box with David Cruz assessing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the one-year anniversary of the first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in New Jersey. Also on the panel were Dr. Suraj Saggar, Chief of the Department of Infectious Disease at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck and Bob Atkins, director of NJ Health Initiatives for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The consensus was that, while positive signs abound, returning to “normal” could mean rethinking the meaning of the word.
Other segments on Chat Box included a discussion of the status of Black-owned businesses in New Jersey with John Harmon, president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of NJ, and a talk with photojournalist Jeff Rhode, who captured the year in photos from the front lines of the COVID-19 fight at Holy Name Medical Center.