How We Can Return to Normal Life in the COVID-19 Era

How We Can Return to Normal Life in the COVID-19 Era

A crowded baseball stadium is the epitome of "getting back to normal."

(© terovesalainen/Adobe)

I was asked recently when life might return to normal. The question is simple but the answer is complex, with many knowns, lots of known unknowns, and some unknown unknowns. But I'll give it my best shot.

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Robert M. Wachter, Md
Robert M. Wachter, MD is Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he is the Holly Smith Distinguished Professor in Science and Medicine and the Benioff Endowed Chair in Hospital Medicine. The department leads the nation in NIH grants and is generally ranked as one of the nation’s best. Wachter is author of 250 articles and 6 books and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He coined the term “hospitalist” in 1996 and is often considered the “father” of the hospitalist field, the fastest growing specialty in the history of modern medicine. He is past president of the Society of Hospital Medicine and past chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine. In the safety and quality arenas, he has written two books on the subject, including Understanding Patient Safety, the world’s top selling safety primer. In 2004, he received the John M. Eisenberg Award, the nation’s top honor in patient safety. Thirteen times, Modern Healthcare magazine has ranked him as one of the 50 most influential physician-executives in the U.S.; he was #1 on the list in 2015. His 2015 book, The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age, was a New York Times science bestseller. In 2016, he chaired a blue-ribbon commission advising England’s National Health Service on its digital strategy. In 2020, his frequent tweets on Covid-19 were viewed over 50 million times by more than 100,000 followers and serve as a trusted source of information on the clinical, public health, and policy issues surrounding the pandemic.
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Patients, family voice hope and relief as FDA gives only its third-ever drug approval for ALS

On Sept. 29, the FDA approved Relyvrio, a new drug for ALS, even though a study of 137 ALS patients did not result in “substantial evidence” that Relyvrio was effective.

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At age 52, Glen Rouse suffered from arm weakness and a lot of muscle twitches. “I first thought something was wrong when I could not throw a 50-pound bag of dog food over the tailgate of my truck—something I use to do effortlessly,” said the 54-year-old resident of Anderson, California, about three hours north of San Francisco.

In August, Rouse retired as a forester for a private timber company, a job he had held for 31 years. The impetus: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neuromuscular disease that is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the New York Yankees’ first baseman who succumbed to it less than a month shy of his 40th birthday in 1941. ALS eventually robs an individual of the ability to talk, walk, chew, swallow and breathe.

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Susan Kreimer
Susan Kreimer is a New York-based freelance journalist who has followed the landscape of health care since the late 1990s, initially as a staff reporter for major daily newspapers. She writes about breakthrough studies, personal health, and the business of clinical practice. Raised in the Chicago area, she holds a B.A. in Journalism/Mass Communication and French from the University of Iowa and an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Friday Five Podcast: New drug may slow the rate of Alzheimer's disease

On September 27, pharmaceuticals Biogen and Eisai announced that their drug, lecanemab, can slow the rate of Alzheimer's disease, according to a clinical trial. Today's Friday Five episode covers this story and other health research over the month of September.

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The Friday Five covers important stories in health and science research that you may have missed - usually over the previous week, but today's episode is a lookback on important studies over the month of September.

Most recently, on September 27, pharmaceuticals Biogen and Eisai announced that a clinical trial showed their drug, lecanemab, can slow the rate of Alzheimer's disease. There are plenty of controversies and troubling ethical issues in science – and we get into many of them in our online magazine – but this news roundup focuses on scientific creativity and progress to give you a therapeutic dose of inspiration headed into the weekend and the new month.

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Matt Fuchs

Matt Fuchs is the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He is also a contributing reporter to the Washington Post and has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, WIRED and the Washington Post Magazine, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @fuchswriter.