Essential reporting in volatile times.

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Businesses are reducing their hours or closing temporarily, and shoppers are adapting their buying habits in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These measures will end when the most dangerous part of the outbreak has passed, but one question is how will they change our habits permanently and our plans for the future.

There’s a dam waiting to burst when the novel coronavirus has peaked and public health officials give people the all clear to resume their normal lives.

This assumes the post-virus normal is similar to the normal we expect.

We’ve already lost many of the cultural highlights of late winter and early spring. Basketball tournaments and spring sports have been canceled. Baseball might not resume until the Fourth of July holiday. Woe be to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine if he has to postpone or cancel the Ohio State football season.

It’s the economic damage that will last beyond a few canceled sports events.

Governments shut down businesses and sent people home. People were promised unemployment benefits from the state and relief checks from the federal government. Those promises were made before government had enough people in place to fulfill them. Now many people are without income and waiting for money that might not be in their hands for a while.

People are getting restless. You can’t keep Americans at home forever. They want to work and play. They want their vacation at the beach. They need to pay their living expenses.

A poll shows one-fourth of small businesses might not survive if shutdowns forced upon them because of the pandemic don’t end soon. If small business is truly the backbone of the economy, steps will need to be taken to strengthen our entrepreneurial base. But how many would-be business people will be scared off knowing a new disease outbreak this fall or winter could wipe out their investments of time and money?

The health care industry will need a breather, but after the virus has passed, it could be swamped again with elective surgeries and procedures that have been postponed. People can defer maintenance on their bodies for only so long.

There will need to be a large-scale review of the information states and health departments worked with and based their decisions on. Many people are doubting the models that predicted a large number of deaths from the virus. If the models were overly pessimistic, the public might not be as willing to self-isolate when the next pandemic strikes.

The presidential election campaign has been put on hold. For better or for worse, President Donald Trump has held center stage nationally in the past couple of weeks while his political opponents have become minor players. The presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party nomination has been reduced to irrelevancy for the time being. Yet the campaign has to resume sometime.

It looks like we’re ramping up for a new cold war, this time with China. The Chinese government’s actions in denying the existence of the novel coronavirus and hiding the true extent of its damage were incompetent at best and an undeclared war on the West at worst. There will need to be repercussions from the United States and other nations. How far we’re willing to go to decrease our dependency on China — and theirs on us — remains to be seen.

There will be a lot of cleanup when the present emergency is behind us. We don’t know yet how much the pandemic will change us. All we can do now is work together and take the small steps that will get us through this problem so we can all get back to work soon.