After catastrophic events, leaders consider what needs to be done to better protect their communities going forward. They also try to predict what the new normal will look like in a society that is forever changed. The 9/11 attacks spurred significant funding and resource building for homeland security efforts and instilled more situational awareness across the board – at least for a while. COVID-19 has communities once again wondering what the new normal will look like as businesses fully open and life without masks and mandates resumes.
It is difficult to know how long it will take to recover to a point where COVID is just a sidebar. However, there is no doubt that the pandemic has encouraged some systemic changes in preparedness efforts. For example, preparedness and response leaders have had many discussions about what to expect in the new normal and have created new ways to train their workforces. Using lessons learned over the past few years, the public health profession is also finding its path forward before the next pandemic or another public health emergency.
However, it is important to recognize that, although many people focus on COVID as the primary incident, secondary and tertiary incidents could create an even longer-term challenge than the pandemic. For example, research on societal violence [INSERT LINK TO SCARROTT AND DIPILLO] shows that rates of violence increased significantly since the beginning of the outbreak. The Nashville Christmas Bombing in December 2020 is just one of many violent attacks that added to the growing statistics in the past couple of years.
Because of the interconnectedness of so many aspects of society, the authors in this July edition of the Domestic Preparedness Journal help readers better understand what is needed in the new normal: a common operating picture , predictable lifelines, new or repurposed technological tools, and more. The new normal after COVID will be quite different from the years after 9/11. However, with critical thinking, research, and innovation, communities will discover their new normal – again.