Science and Tech


4 years since the COVID pandemic lockdown: How it changed our lives

Hundreds of people are still dying every week in the U.S. from COVID-19, and the CDC still classifies it as a pandemic.
Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 15, 2024

There are no longer those once-familiar restrictions — the six feet, the capacity limits, the mandates to wear masks in public.

We come and go as we please, we travel where we want to — but many of us still carry the invisible weight of an invisible virus.

It's been two years since Nuanchan Sindkran first contracted the omicron variant of COVID-19, but she still deals with its effects today. Long COVID has put her among 16.5 million other Americans who fight chronic fatigue, head fog, and labored breathing daily.

"Sometimes you have to be worried about your health. Why is it happening? The long, labored breathing or something like that?" she said. 

And while some evidence of the new normal is negative, there's other evidence that's positive

For Lori Yahr and her husband, the pandemic afforded them the opportunity to be more active, to travel more — hobbies they still enjoy with greater frequency to this day. A study published this year by the National Institutes of Health shows 53.5% of Americans reported having experienced something positive from the pandemic. It's a positivity researchers hold onto as well.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein is with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Even though the CDC reports there are still more than 500 deaths per week due to COVID-19, that number has been dropping since January. Sharfstein thinks it's partly due to the way people have changed how they perceive common enemies.

"The virus doesn't care about any of that. The virus doesn't care whether we really want it to go away, whether we wish it never happened, whether we want to treat it like a bad dream. The virus is still infecting people and it still poses a very serious threat," said Sharfstein. 

Doctor who treated first US COVID-19 case weighs in 4 years later
COVID-19 Nasal swab laboratory test in hospital lab

Doctor who treated first US COVID-19 case weighs in 4 years later

The World Health Organization declared the global COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020.