This is The Atlantic’s weekly email to subscribers. As always, you can talk with us by replying directly to this email. In this week’s newsletter, our editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, reflects on our pandemic year.

Shan Wang


Dear Reader,

Last year, when we made the decision to vacate The Atlantic’s offices, we hoped that we would be able to return after a few weeks, once the threat had subsided. No one—not even my brilliant colleagues on the pandemic beat, already engaged in their world-changing work—could have fully imagined the serial shocks to come.

I visited our empty headquarters recently. The heat was off, light bulbs flickered, and desks were still covered in work we were doing on March 11, 2020. The cognitive dissonance was striking: In the weeks and months that followed our departure, The Atlantic’s virtual newsroom performed magnificently. In my opinion (and yes, please take into account the built-in biases of the editor in chief), our pandemic year may be recognized as the greatest sustained stretch of excellent journalism in our 164-year history. And my colleagues did everything on Zoom, in sweatpants, and with crying babies just off-camera, all while enduring grief, exhaustion, sickness, and loneliness.

All of us have experienced loss in the past year. Some of you are mourning loved ones, and dear friends, lost in the pandemic. Many of you have experienced almost-unendurable periods of quarantine and burden and worry. This has been, in so many ways, a dreadful year, and our thoughts are with you.

I’ve been thinking about how we’ll remember the pandemic, and all of 2020, in fact. It was a year of three generation-defining stories: the world-altering virus; the race and justice issues brought to the surface by the murder of George Floyd; and the threat to our democracy posed by authoritarianism and its Trumpist variant. It’s too early to even guess how these events will be remembered by history, but we at The Atlantic are dedicated to serving you today by continuing to cover these issues with intensity, ambition, and an implacable commitment to the truth.

I want to thank all of you for continuing to support our work, and the cause of independent journalism. For those of you who joined us in the past year, it is my sincere hope that we have added something meaningful to your lives.

I wish you good health and a good spring. Below, you will find some stories we’ve published recently that I like very much. I hope you will enjoy reading them too.

Jeffrey Goldberg


Don’t Be Surprised When Vaccinated People Get Infected, By Katherine J. Wu

Post-immunization cases, sometimes called “breakthroughs,” are very rare and very expected.

Health care workers administer vaccines
MICAH GREEN / BLOOMBERG / GETTY

Why the Pandemic Experts Failed, by Robinson Meyer & Alexis C. Madrigal

We’re still thinking about pandemic data in the wrong ways.

Graph of COVID-19 cases over an image of the virus cells
NIAID / THE ATLANTIC

The Coming Nostalgia for Hyper-Nesting, by devon powers

Our pandemic cocoons are breaking open, and some of us might miss them.

Two women playing instruments inside as masked people watch
JEAN GAUMY / MAGNUM

The Pandemic Is Ending, by James Hamblin

In millions of small ways, every day. How long it takes is up to us.

Anthony Fauci testifies during a Senate committee hearing in September.
RAEME JENNINGS / AFP / GETTY


Late-Stage Pandemic Is Messing With Your Brain, by Ellen cushing

We have been doing this so long, we’re forgetting how to be normal.

Reflection of feet half out of water
PETER MARLOW / MAGNUM

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