Life After COVID-19: Now What?
2020 will be a year to remember. Our lives were taken over by a creature too miniscule to see with the naked eye, and we faced a pandemic we haven’t seen in many years. Quickly, society all but shut down, and paranoia rose to frightening levels. But like the pandemics before this, the human race is coming out on top, and–slowly, but surely–data is telling us that this coronavirus mess is on its way down.
But–and it’s an important but–life will surely not be the same, especially the near (and possibly further than near) future. There are repercussions of this pandemic, and societies around the world will have to face them.
On average, a pre-pandemic person didn’t think twice about shaking a stranger’s hand. They’d gladly grasp the same subway handrail as the smelly guy beside them, knowing that most likely, nothing bad would happen. Well, that quickly went out the window. While many will go back to the pre-COVID comfort levels of social distancing, the scare the world has faced has surely produced a higher level of paranoia among our general society that will stick. In fact, recent surveys have shown that societal anxiety and agoraphobia have risen dramatically in the last few months. PTSD among healthcare workers is projected to be a problem. Will the world as a whole ever go back to the pre-pandemic levels of societal comfort? Honestly, chances are we won’t, at least for quite a while. COVID has reminded the world that viruses are real, and they can spread faster than wildfire; affecting lives, and taking them.
What a difference a virus makes. It can kill, it can scare, and it can remind the world that taking precautions is the best defense. Hand washing will become more of a priority than the pre-pandemic (a good thing–wash your hands!), hand sanitizer will surely be offered much more in public, and social distancing will take longer than most think to sputter out to normal. Surveys have shown that the public is more interested in taking vitamin supplements than before and, in general, are more invested in their health. Hopefully that level of health mindfulness sticks, but whatever happens, COVID has definitely affected our outlook on health.
Parents everywhere let out a collective scream when they were told they’d have to be in charge of their children’s education from home. Well, that’s not true (there was actually relief for many that their children would be distanced from a place of high-risk viral transmission). But regardless, home-based education has been a tough one for a huge number of households. Parents were not equipped to suddenly police their children every day, managing about a hundred different apps and sites that each teacher uses, checking work, while also handling their own jobs. Heck, many parents have no idea how to do a lot of the homework and rely on Google for the answers. The pandemic has affected education in a huge way as a result. No ACTs/SATs, state testing, or hands-on learning, and most kids will be behind when the 2020-2021 school year begins. Teachers will need to stay on task for scheduled curriculum, while also having to make up for the delayed learning the pandemic has brought. It’s a hard one, but thankfully, there are incredible teachers out there who can tackle the challenge.
When the world shuts down, the economy suffers. While more people have been able to keep their jobs than not, there are many who have found themselves without work. Unemployment filings have risen, and many are unable to pay rent or mortgage. The stimulus package President Trump put together was a nice boost to families–for some, it made all the difference. There have been temporary bills passed that give relief for missed mortgage and rent payments, as well. Yet some are still very worried, and rightfully so–it’s scary when so many lose jobs. But are we heading into another recession similar to what Obama had to work through? No. It won’t be immediate, but the economy will recover. People will return to work; business that had to lay off workers will begin to re-hire as their stores open up again. This isn’t the financial apocalypse like some skeptics have forecasted.
Who knew that a small little bug like COVID-19 could rule our world like it has. It’s affected almost all facets of daily life and has taken many precious lives. But our world marches on. We are overcoming this pandemic, the human race will deal with the repercussions, and–hopefully–we will come out much stronger as a result.