ABC News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton On Overcoming Fear Of "The New Normal"

This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.

If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.

The new normal. You've probably heard those three words more than once over the last year in regards to life during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. And if you're anything like Rach, they don't make you feel great. One year in, our current reality is not new anymore. And with face masks, remote learning, working from home, restaurant closures and more devastating developments, it certainly doesn't feel normal. 

But Dr. Jen Ashton, Chief Medical Correspondent at ABC News, explains why it's the title of her new book about the coronavirus pandemic — The New Normal: A Roadmap to Resilience In The Pandemic Era — and why the thought of a "new normal" doesn't have to be terrifying.

"It's not new anymore, because it's been a year, and it's not normal," she tells Rach. "But the reason I wrote this book and called it The New Normal is because after being and living all things Covid for the last year-plus — day in, day out — speaking to the country's top public health officials (Tony Fauci is on speed dial on my cell phone), I heard from viewers, I heard from my patients, I heard from friends and family, that they wanted more than the two-minute television segments. So I wanted to help people think like a doctor."

MORE: Health Essentials You Should Always Have At Home (Now More Than Ever)

"If you've flown since 9/11, you know things never went back to 'normal' there, and they will never go back to normal after this pandemic," Dr. Jen writes in her new book. "We are going to be living with the virus for a long time — pathogens that are easily transmissible but not consistently deadly are the hardest to contain, like the flu. Instead of waiting for science to outsmart the virus — because it could be a really long time — we need to learn how to manage the virus so it doesn't manage us. People may think twice about being in crowded spaces for years to come, and a hug and a handshake won't be your first form of greeting. Hand sanitizing stations aren't going anywhere anytime soon. And when you hear of a new flu strain or new viral outbreak, you'll likely brace yourself for the worst. But just because this is our new normal, it's not a reality that needs to be frightening — which is why I wrote this book. My goal is to help you recognize and adapt, because the sooner and more seamlessly you do, the sooner our new normal won't be new anymore. It will just be normal."

"The thing is, with this pandemic, we are learning something new about this virus every day, so I didn't want to just put together a bunch of facts that tomorrow might be out of date," the doctor tells Rach. "We have to learn how to think like doctors to avoid the medical headline whiplash. So, really, everything about thinking like a doctor is in this book so that it can help you navigate those headlines and make the best decision so that we can get on with life."

And we can start doing that, Dr. Jen tells Rach, by trusting science. 

"Fear, questions, concerns — that is not only normal, it's appropriate," Dr. Jen says about hesitation surrounding the Covid vaccine. "And in science, when you stop asking questions, you stop learning. So, I encourage that, and any doctor who is a good doctor will always encourage questions."

"I got both doses of the vaccine when it was my turn at my hospital to do so," the doctor continues. "I have a history of serious allergic reactions, and I went with the science. I went with the numbers. What was my chance of having an allergic reaction? At that time, it was 1 in 90,000 versus my chance of getting Covid. Over a year ago, I was down at the NIH vaccine development lab with Dr. Fauci, where they were working on the coronavirus vaccine. This was, again, February of 2020. When you talk about the vaccine, vaccines have such a safe track record. No corners were cut in terms of safety in the development of these vaccines. I also tell my patients, Rach, we have to remember, pharmaceutical companies are in business to make money, and the worst thing for their bottom line would be producing a vaccine that was dangerous. So I believe in the science. I believe in it for myself, for my family — and I think that's going to be a major, major way we get control of this pandemic."

You Might Like