COVID-19’s Lasting Effects

Alex Chang, Staff Reporter

COVID-19, or more commonly known as coronavirus, was first discovered in December of 2019, has since infected people worldwide,  sickening 1.9 million people and killing 123,000 at the writing of this article. As a result, nations around the globe are requiring all citizens to stay in their homes, closing all businesses except grocery stores and other essential businesses. In the U.S., some of the largest sports events are being canceled due to fears of COVID-19 spreading through the crowds. Here in California, all 40 million residents are required to shelter in place, allowed only to leave for essential business or exercise. Residents are ordered to stay six feet away from other people not to play sports that require the use of the same ball. For example, sports like basketball and tennis. In fact, here in San Carlos, the basketball hoops have been covered to prevent their use. 


The largest problem is the economic and societal toll that COVID-19 is taking. From January to March 2020 economic markets around the world have plummeted. The New York Stock Exchange had its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIJA) hit the highest level in over 100 years in mid-February, but since then the DIJA has begun to dive, losing 35% in just a month. Which meant millions of people and businesses across the U.S. lost money. Markets in the EU are diving as well, with investor confidence dwindling due to the uncertainty from coronavirus. Here in California, the governor has ordered all non-essential establishments to be closed, and for restaurants to only provide take-out to prevent gatherings of people. For people with white-collar jobs, telecommuting is a viable option. But for the large majority of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, the coronavirus is devastating to their livelihood. Small family-owned businesses that are non-essential are also taking the brunt of coronavirus’s economic impacts.


While large corporations can withstand weeks of lost revenue, smaller local businesses can not. After all non-essential businesses were closed in multiple states, these small businesses had to begin firing their employees to conserve the money they have. Boba Guys here in the Bay Area had to fire 400 of its employees. Small mom-and-pop shops across the states are in danger of losing their livelihood. And it’s not just a couple thousand people. In the U.S. one week ago, just over 280,000 unemployment claims were filed. This week, there were almost 630,000 unemployment claims from just 15 states. All of these unemployed workers who were once contributing to the economy are now unable to add to the GDP. The last time in history this many establishments were closed was 9/11, and before that WWII. This is unprecedented. And for 9/11 it was just one day. No one got laid off, and life resumed more or less normally the next day for most people of America. But now because of coronavirus, businesses are losing 8 weeks of revenue. Again, while large corporations can cut their losses and survive, local and family-owned businesses might not be able to reopen once the pandemic is over. Another likely possibility is that wealth inequality could widen. As of 2017, the wealthiest 1% of households in America owned 40% of the wealth. Once the threat of coronavirus has passed, those households will be able to sustain themselves financially over the next 8 weeks. But the rest of the country might find themselves drowning in debt, with the gap of wealth continuing to increase in size. This will make it much harder for blue-collar families to dig themselves out of the hole they are being dumped in because of coronavirus. 


In the U.S., over 40 million kids are being homeschooled withs schools being shut down due to the fear of community spread. Distance learning and Zoom conferences have been skyrocketing in popularity as teachers race to find a way to keep their students occupied. Because of the dangers of COVID-19, colleges are closing their campuses and forcing their students to return home. For high school seniors applying to college, some colleges are not requiring the SAT or ACT for applications due to the fact that they are not readily available. For seniors in college who are graduating into the work force, it will be exceptionally challenging for them to find jobs in the economy due to the growing recession.


In society, norms are quickly changing. With social distancing coming into effect in many communities in the U.S., people are attempting to physically distance themselves from others. But many people are ignoring the ordinances. In Miami, thousands of people head to Florida to kick back and relax in Florida’s bars and beaches. Then lockdowns and the closing of nonessential businesses were implemented. But people still wanted to hang out, get drunk, and therefore ignored the laws. This is only fueling the coronavirus’ spread across the country, as these young people, though they might not get sick themselves, become vectors to spread the disease to people who are much more vulnerable.


Another societal aspect that COVID-19 has affected is religion. During the Spring, there are many holy days that typically involve congregation, whether it be at a church, temple, or mosque. But due to bans on large gatherings over the fear of community spread, all places of worship where people congregate were ordered to close. Our local church, St. Charles, has closed as well. But religious people will have to consider what to do to celebrate their religion. Easter this year is on April 12th. Passover lasts from April 8th to April 16th. Ramadan begins on April 23rd and ends on May 23rd. How will Christians celebrate the revival of their beloved Jesus Christ? How will Jews gather to commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel? How can Muslim families visit Mosques during Ramadan if there are bans on travel and congregation? The answer is still unknown and will change what it means to be religious.


Economies crashing. Education brought to a near halt. Religious days change after years of tradition. All these are effects of the coronavirus. A month, a year, 5 years into the future, these effects from these events may still be lingering in the shadows of society. Economies could take years to recover from the lasting market crashes and low investor confidence. Local businesses, if they manage to pay their rent and keep their stores and offices once the pandemic is over, are going to be challenged with finding new employees to replace the ones they fired. COVID-19 has thrown a curveball into social interactions, making it difficult for people to see their friends and family, and creating boredom and loneliness. 40 million kids in the U.S. are experiencing the effects of coronavirus firsthand, learning without real human interaction. But the world will recover. In 1918, when 1% of the world died from the Spanish flu, life still went on. In the end, coronavirus is only a setback.