When the Duke of Milan laid siege to Florence in 1531, the unintended consequence was the birth of the Renaissance. That’s right — rather than wringing their hands, clutching their pearls or wailing from the parapets, the good Florentines buckled down and made a bunch of art.

As we mark the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s touchdown on the West Coast, can we say something similar?

The answer is mixed. Book publishers, whose continued existence has been in some question in a nation that doesn’t read much, actually saw an uptick in 2020. In its third quarter assessment of businesses that did well last year despite — or perhaps because of — the pandemic, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce singled out 10, most of which center around the home: home gyms, home improvements and home deliveries. Also, of course, Zoom or, more broadly, software solutions.

But of course, the lockdowns have been devastating to so many other, more traditional businesses. With the first whiff of spring in the air and more and more people being vaccinated, it is tempting to think of a post-COVID-19 world.

But that would be premature. Even if infection rates plummet tomorrow, the stigma is still there. The mind-set of COVID-19 uber alles may be hard to shake.

Last week, the Pope visited Iraq. In reporting on this, the first question the BBC reporter asked the designated Iraqi official was “what safety arrangements have been put in place around COVID-19?”

I almost drove off the road when I heard it, after all, this is Iraq we’re talking about, where Christians have been under siege in recent years. How could a reporter honestly think this is a primary question?

Because it’s been beaten into him, is why. If he wants his story to ever be broadcast, he darn well better have a COVID-19 angle. A historic intersection of two of the world’s great faiths will not, by itself, get that billing.

Like a toxic lover, the stigma of COVID-19 may linger long after the disease has shuffled on its way. In some, the fear and wariness it sparked will migrate to other anxieties. For others, who have shown resilience throughout, it will pass like bad weather.

But for all of us, a question remains: will there be a health dividend and if so, what will we do with it?

Consider, for example, peace dividends. After 1945, when our global enemies were vanquished, America’s economy soared, indeed boomed and life in this country was forever transformed.

When the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1991; though, there was no comparable moment, we all just muddled on while the Russians licked their wounds and then re-grouped to become the mighty social media nuisances they are today. In the space of less than half a century, our bounce-back strength diminished.

When COVID-19 hit a year ago, I was coming off nearly two years of virtual house arrest so it didn’t seem like such a big deal. But then the argument with my wife that led to separation and divorce began to do with how we face COVID-19, so its impact on me — while delayed — was no less real. God says stand, Caesar says crouch. It’s so confusing.

These days, we hope, will soon be in the rear view mirror.

The internet today is stirring with the question: “what’s the first thing you’ll do when the COVID-19 threat has lifted?” It’s always nice to dream, especially this time of year. But before we get carried away with blissful thoughts of the future, it is worthwhile to ask what, if any, fruit may be reaped from a year of social-distancing, quarantine and isolation?

At the bare minimum, it’s vested some of us with patience.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.