In my 2010 Atlantic article, “We Are The Disease: Why the Coming Global Sickness Will Hate America More Than Any Other Country Because It Is Just The Worst,” I wrote, “the pandemic will close the economy. Then the economy will reopen, but then we will have to close it again. And then we will reopen it again, and then close it again. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Now my moment has arrived. I’ve developed a foolproof multi-step plan to return our nation to its glorious peak.
As the only member of human society to hold doctorate degrees in both virology and the economic impact of pandemics, I’m uniquely qualified to help guide the United States back to full recovery. My email is open and my phone is off airplane mode since airplanes no longer exist. I’m just waiting for someone to activate my expertise.
My plan operates in phases. In Phase One, we must re-open essential businesses, plus the local gourmet shop in my hometown of Mount Winchester that sells duck confit. However, no one must get within six feet of the open storefronts. Shopkeepers must shoot pre-purchased goods out of a T-shirt cannon, and we can only catch them if we’re wearing gloves.
If we leave our houses, we must allow medical authorities to stick a three-foot swab up our noses and a two-foot swab in our ears. If these tests prove inconclusive, then we must take the SAT, even if we haven’t studied.
Preschools should re-open, but without teachers. Grade schools should remain closed. High schools should remain open, but only for sophomores and juniors, and only if they maintain strict gender-neutral bathroom policies. Students are allowed to make out behind the bleachers, but only if they remain six feet apart. Trigonometry classes will be canceled, because everyone hates them.
In Phase Two, further testing is key. We must all submit to mandatory throat swabs conducted by drones in an outdoor setting. If our swabs are negative, we will be able to ride our bicycles to the toilet-paper distribution center, where a drone will shoot rolls out of a cannon.
In this phase, restaurants will reopen, but only for one customer at a time. We can begin to receive non-essential surgeries, but only in an outdoor drive-through setting. Occasionally, we will be allowed to drive our cars to the ocean, but with closed windows. The police will ticket anyone attempting to drive into the ocean.
Phase 3 is the most exciting and dangerous phase. This phase will allow social dancing for the uninfected. Improv theaters will reopen for the 6:30 p.m. show that no one went to anyway. Sixteen people a day will receive a lucky ticket that allows them to go to the movies, but what the theaters actually show will be a surprise.
Essential hospital personnel will be permitted to use the toilet. Military robots will give random passers-by an anal swab. Industrial agriculture will reopen, and then close. James Corden will continue to sing on YouTube, but no one will be listening.
In Phase Four, all citizens will receive a complimentary barrel of oil and two eggs. If you have survived your cancer thus far, you will be permitted two telemedicine appointments with your oncologist.
A drone will swab your belly-button. If you giggle, it will slap you across the face. You will be permitted two hot takes a day on social media. All reality-TV personnel must return to work immediately, because people will need entertainment.
When Phase Five begins, society will briefly function normally as it did before but then something nasty will happen, and we’ll have to go back to Phase One. Don’t worry, this is normal, and all part of the process of pandemic recovery.
For Phase Six, or, as I call it, Phase 1-minus, all work must stop except for essential medical work related to the virus, as well as ominous newspaper editorial writing. The food system and electrical grid will collapse but it will only be temporary.
In Phase 7, middle schools and hair salons will reopen.
By Phase 8, life will resume more or less as normal as long as you allow the drone to swab you through your mandatory dialysis catheter. The government will allow limited procreational activities, but not public skateboarding. You will able to buy plants, but not seeds, because seeds sow discontent.
Major League Baseball can resume its season as long as the teams don’t play the “Everybody Clap Your Hands” recording. The Houston Astros must forfeit their 2017 championship trophy and donate their entire salaries to COVID-19 relief efforts.
You don’t want to know about Phase Nine. Let us pray we never get there. It’s pretty dystopian.
I await the call to enact my plan. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go wait in line at Trader Joe’s. I hear it will be open on Friday.