The World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a global epidemic on March 11, 2020.

More than two years later, there is no clear end to the epidemic. False beginnings have been made towards the feeling of normalcy: the decline in the number of cases in the summer of 2020, the race to get the “shot in the arms” in 2021, a few weeks of the “hot wax summer” and the expiration of the mask mandate in many states in March. But, as my colleagues have reported, although Congress has recently cut coronavirus funding, the epidemic is not over for unvaccinated, elderly, immunocompromised or black and brown Americans, who are twice as likely to die from covid than their whites. Opponent Long Covid, a mysterious set of debilitating symptoms without a cure, has left many feeling as science has failed them as well.

We now exist in the moment of little understanding of record-setting deaths, misleading guidelines for public health, and how, or when, normal starts. To help understand what society has felt, we’ve asked our Instagram followers to share a sentence that describes their “new normal” and three words that characterize their hope for our post-covid world.

Read their feedback The Atlantic ‘s Covid Time Capsules, a reflection of the past two years, captured in our present moment.


In one sentence, how would you describe your new normal?

Happiness subdued, confused by impending doom

“I think less about putting my life to work and more about living.”

“I can no longer tell the difference between loneliness and loneliness.”

“I found joy and beauty all around me.”

Being a wife and mother during the time of Kovid was bitter sweet

“Nothing seems easy anymore.”

“I stay hyperlocal, focus on outdoor activities and no longer travel.”

“The thought of leaving home twice a day makes me tremble.”

“Mask in the glove box and quick check in the closet.”

“I miss my dad.”

Life is a balance to enjoy and we made it through OK

“I’ve become an antisocial goblin.”

“Going out without a mask now seems weird, like you’re naked.”

“So much damage.”

Share three words to describe your hope for the future

Empathy, sympathy, understanding

“Hug a loved one.”

“Belief in science.”

“Hope, love, sympathy.”

“Peace of mind.”

“Vaccines for children.”

“Be calm.”

“Go back to intelligence.”

Remember our humanity

“Freedom from fear.”

“Look at the face again.”

“Dinner with friends.”

“No more masks.”

“Everyone has been vaccinated.”

To add your image to the time capsule, share your thoughts on social media and tag us— @ theatlantic on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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