Navigating the New Normal

COVID-19 is now something we all live with. But it hasn’t affected everyone equally.

Three years after the start of the pandemic, life had largely returned to normal. Face masks were mostly gone. Children were back in school. Sporting events, travel, and concerts resumed. COVID-19 was something to be managed rather than feared.

On May 11, 2023, the United States ended the Public Health Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. While this designation didn’t end the physical and emotional impacts of the pandemic, it marked a transition in how policy makers and organizations like AAP manage COVID-19.

“The pandemic really taught us as health care professionals how vulnerable we really are in taking care of patients who might be sick with an illness for which we didn't really have answers. We didn't have treatments, at least early on, and we didn't understand exactly how this disease might impact not only the patient, but our own workforce, ourselves and our families.”
- Dr. Yvonne “Bonnie” Maldonado, MD, FAAP, and former chair of the AAP’s Committee on Infectious Diseases

While the pandemic affected everyone, it perhaps most marked children whose formative years were defined by interruptions in schooling, fear of disease, and loss of loved ones. Recovery has been uneven. Some children have stability at home and have largely recovered from the experience of the pandemic. Others lost friends and family members and still struggle with continuing trauma. 

“I don't think kids have fully recovered yet,” Dr. Szilagyi said. “We're still seeing a lot of anxiety and depression, more than we used to.”

There are bright spots. Frequent hand-washing and the use of hand sanitizer was normalized, as was the use of face masks when sick. Individuals are far more likely to stay home when ill, and to keep sick kids home. Virtual meetings and working from home became normal for many. 

The AAP developed a number of resources to help pediatric health care professionals support children and families during the pandemic recovery. They include:

Critical Updates on COVID-19

Find the AAP's policy, guidance, vaccine information and more.

View COVID Information

The Story So Far: Pandemic Reflections & Lessons

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American Academy of Pediatrics