Covid won the war with America. What does “learning to live with the enemy” mean?

by Bob Schwartz

America is fortunate compared to many nations. After the Revolution, we never had to live with a foreign occupying force. The last time there was a homeland occupation was after the Civil War, when the victorious North took over the defeated South (an event that still resonates today).

America had the tools to defeat Covid, or at least hold it substantially at bay. Mitigation strategies such as masking, distancing, testing, tracing were available—and ultimately vaccines. But there was insufficient will to use these soon and soundly enough. So now that Covid is endemic and still mutating, the mantra is “learning to live with it.”

It is too darkly smart to say that “living with Covid” doesn’t apply to the 700,000 officially (900,000 unofficially) who have already died from it, or the more than 1,000 a day still dying. That remark aside, we are staring into an unknowable hole of our own digging. Maybe another more pernicious variant. Likely the confluence of Covid and flu. Chronic “long haul” conditions we are just learning about. Along with the certainty that Covid is here to stay, in great part because of what we did or didn’t do.

So the next time you hear or say “learning to live with Covid,” contemplate and discuss exactly what that means. Around the world, people know what it means to live with an evil occupying force intent only on making them suffer and killing them. It is by no means too late to lessen the suffering and death the enemy tries to inflict. But we did have a chance to make things better, and we blew it. Please let us try again.