Coronavirus, COVID-19 and pandemic have become everyday words in our collective vocabulary over the course of the last year. But now that vaccines have been approved and are more widely available, people are now wondering about life after the pandemic.

One of many unanswered questions is “Where do we go from here?”

It’s an answer that may not come for quite some time, and it’s leading to other often-repeated words: “the new normal.”

What that “normal” looks like will come in time. Until then, Kankakee County Health Administrator John Bevis said residents need to continue wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and regularly washing their hands.

“We have to be careful,” he said. “People need to continue the precautions. We don’t want to get too confident. There are variants now and we have to see what the impacts are on the vaccines.”

Is it over yet?

At what point is a pandemic officially declared over? Bevis said that is another difficult question to answer. Many things will factor into the equation, but getting more people vaccinated and lowering the number of COVID cases will be good indicators.

“We are a ways from that,” Bevis warned.

To fully get to the end, he said, we will need to see drastic decreases in the number of cases and deaths.

Some health leaders have gone as far as putting a number with it. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center and an expert in virology and immunology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was quoted in The Atlantic as saying “the doors will open” when the country gets to fewer than 5,000 new cases a day, and fewer than 100 deaths. But for Offit, the real question is, “What is the number that people are comfortable with?”

A yearly thing?

Another question on the mind of many is if the COVID vaccinations will operate the same as flu vaccines in that they should be administered annually.

Riverside Healthcare President and CEO Phil Kambic said indeed this will be a yearly vaccine.

“People have appreciated receiving the shot. They are glad to get their life back,” Kambic said.

Bevis said the future vaccination process could be a one-shot vaccine such as that for measles or mumps, or it could be an annual booster shot like those for the flu.

Vaccine passports?

As events and venues begin reopening, many wonder if they will need to show paperwork proving they received the COVID vaccine in order to partake.

“I could see it happening,” Bevis said.

It could be a passport or it could be a driver’s license that is used as a Real ID, he surmised.

Changes are already in store that will require you to have a Real ID to board domestic flights and possibly to visit federal facilities.

The date for that change is Oct. 1, 2021. As for many of the other questions though, we’ll have to wait for answers.

Jeff Bonty is a reporter for The Daily Journal. He can be reached at and 815-937-3366.


Jeff Bonty has worked for The Daily Journal since September 1986, starting in the sports department before moving to news reporting in 2002. He's a native of Indiana and graduate of Purdue University. His email is