From the perspective of medical history, the novel coronavirus is not entirely novel. The work of women has long been essential for treating the sick and shoring up medical systems, though the degree to which women are acknowledged does change, sometimes in surprising ways. Chinese people have been the targets of medicalized racism for over a century, though social media has changed the way these messages circulate and the frequency and ferocity with which people can challenge them. We would all do well to take the lessons of pandemic history to heart as we try to adapt to a virus that we do not yet understand. At the same time, every pandemic does have a unique story because it is profoundly shaped by the state of the world when it occurs. Current telecommunication technologies have allowed many of us to build new daily routines with minimal contact with other human beings, but the mental and emotional costs of that distancing are high and will likely reverberate for more than a generation. We face many challenges that are not strictly scientific but have everything to do with politics and culture.