As more Americans start to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and immunity to the deadly virus starts to take effect, most people ponder what life will be like post-pandemic. Will at-risk individuals feel safer around their friends and family? Will schools go back to in-person education? Will social events such as parties, concerts and theater shows make a return? Will restaurants, bars and clubs be able to open up at full capacity?
These questions are all burned into most American’s minds as the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic looms on. One aspect of the pandemic is clear, getting back to normal is on everyone’s minds. Could we see a second “Roaring Twenties” in the near future?
It should be said that there have been similarities, as well as differences, between the 1918 Influenza pandemic, also known as the Spanish Flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was an estimate of at least 50 million deaths worldwide. John Hopkins University reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen more than three million deaths worldwide.
Once the Spanish Flu ultimately died down in 1920, the United States saw an economic boom. The new culture of the ‘20s was seen at this time, most importantly with the “new woman.” As women secured the right to vote, they cut their hair short, drank and dawned the most famous attire of the time: a flapper dress.
With the good feelings of surviving the Spanish Flu, the cultural revolution and the recent economic progression of the ‘20s, there was a rise in social gatherings. Nightclubs played jazz music and dancing the charleston was all the rage.
Although this slice of history shows new hope for a post-pandemic future, do students feel safe enough to create a similar outcome?
“The roaring twenties was very different, but I do see a resemblance,” Freshman hospitality management major Christian Schneider said. “People are going to do a lot more than they would have done before the pandemic because they haven’t gone to parties in a long time. Once places like clubs start to open and people have big gatherings at their house, everyone wants to go out and dress up nice. In that way, it’s going to resemble the roaring twenties.”
Another difference between the two pandemics has been the rollout of vaccinations. While the influenza vaccine was not created until the 1940s, almost 20 years after the initial pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccination has been a solution to the troubling virus.
“The CDC has said people who are fully vaccinated can gather inside together without having to wear masks, which is amazing,” Freshman social work major Anna Brown said. “Once college-age students are able to get vaccinated, I think that people are going to start gathering more.”
However, while the vaccine is a step in the right direction, students like Schneider and Brown want to air on the side of caution as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on. The pandemic has taught students to value personal space and the safety of others.
“If I go somewhere knowing that a lot of people there are fully vaccinated, I will feel a lot more comfortable,” Schneider said. “I would most definitely still wear my mask and not really go in anyone’s personal space.”
The post-pandemic future is hopeful, especially because students are getting vaccinated. While most students want to see a fully in-person college experience, safety precautions should still be taken.
“It is still a time where people have to be cautious until there is science and evidence to back up the fact that we can start doing things more freely again,” Brown said. “I hope that people still continue to be cautious. Once more people are vaccinated, it is opening up a wide range of opportunities to be able to go out to restaurants and meet with more people.”
While this time may be far in the future, wearing masks, social distancing and getting the vaccine are all steps to getting closer to the possible “Roaring 2020s.” The new generation is ready to take back what has been lost.
“When COVID has gone, most of us will be in our twenties, in the ‘roaring twenties,’” Brown said. “I really think those few years, as soon as mask mandates are fully lifted and we have herd immunity from people getting vaccinated, our generation is going to go wild.”