For now we must remain apart: the impacts of COVID-19
Coronavirus has impacted our lives in various ways, from social distancing to job cuts, the three major impacts are on our economy, social lives, and environment.
Around the end of 2019, the first case of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, appeared in Wuhan, China. Within months, the virus has spread to all corners of the globe, significantly impacting lives. Whether young or old, rich or poor, every individual has been affected by the quarantine the world is in. Right now, we are in the epicenter of this crisis, but we will soon face the aftershocks. Coronavirus has impacted our lives in various ways, from social distancing to job cuts, the three major impacts are on our economy, social lives, and environment.
Coronavirus Impacts: The Economy
As you already may know, the effects of the coronavirus on our economy are substantial. Unemployment rates are gradually increasing; in fact, the Goldman Sachs Investment Banking Company predicts that over 30 million people will file unemployment claims this year. And due to this worldwide crisis, an individual who loses their job during this time will face unprecedented financial problems.
As for the food industry, the nation’s food supply seems to be stable as of now, however, prices are slowly rising due to increased consumer demand. According to Nielsen Corporation, at March 7, 2020 food sales began to significantly rise: dried beans sales rose 63%, rice rose 58%, chickpeas/garbanzo beans rose 47%, powdered milk products rose 126%, water rose 42%, and canned meat rose 58%.
The food companies that depend on China for their supplies and want to avoid supplier disruption are looking for other sources. Additionally, since imports and exports of foods such as meat and dairy are being affected, companies are urging to produce their own grains and such domestically.
Employees of these companies are also ensured their safety while working.
Coronavirus Impacts: The Social Life
The social lives of people all around the world are being affected by the COVID-19 quarantine. It has also affected their mental health, according to an article by ScienceDirect, stating that the reasons behind the mental health challenges include longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies and information, financial loss, and stigma.
Since quarantine isolates people from each other, loneliness has also become a key factor in affecting the mental health of many people. Additionally depression, hostility, pessimism, social withdrawal, and alienation can all result from loneliness. It is further revealed that loneliness can also lead to many more severe disorders such as clinical depression, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.
Another reason behind the mental health challenges some face during quarantine is because of the issue regarding job losses. After one loses their job, they might suffer from shock, active distress, and ultimately, turn to fatalistic solutions such as suicide.
Specifically, the feeling of extreme fear and anxiety over the pandemic has led to some suicide cases among those who were already mentally sensitive. An article by USA Today explains that suicide prevention experts are expecting an increase in suicide attempts due to the current pandemic. Additionally, it is stated that quarantine and social-distancing could also be triggering to those who are coping with suicidal thoughts.
However, even after all these drawbacks, a positive has emerged: a decrease in crime. According to USA Today, 19 out of 20 police agencies examined have reported a decrease in criminal incidents since March 15, when the nationwide lockdown was placed in America. Here is a graph from The Marshall Project on the number of reported crimes that visualizes this decline in criminal activities.
Finally, schools are also facing many complications due to the quarantine. As Trilemma, a student-run organization, we are also affected by this issue, and like many other schools, ours has taken upon the credit/no credit system during this lockdown. As schools become more lenient with their grading systems, it has pros and cons; it helps as a crutch for those who are unable to attain resources needed to excel in schools, such as computers, and the internet. However, this system also has given some students the chance to slack off and not put effort into their work.
Coronavirus Impacts: The Environment
Amid all the negativity caused by the coronavirus quarantine, there has been one positive side-effect: environment restoration. All over the world, people have been expressing their awe of how this pandemic has allowed animals to return to their habitats, smog to clear up, and vibrations on the Earth to reduce.
The largest impact of the lockdown is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Data collected from a New York study reveals that the instructions reducing unnecessary travel are having a significant impact: there has been a 50% reduction in carbon monoxide pollution. Traffic has also reduced by 35% while CO2 and methane levels have also dropped. Meanwhile, in Italy and China, levels of nitrogen dioxide—a serious air pollutant that contributes to climate change—have fallen significantly as well. Due to the global cease of economic activity amid this lockdown, it isn’t really surprising that the levels of major air pollutants would be reduced.
In Krakow, Poland, many residents have been able to see the Tatra mountains, which were previously covered by the city’s smog. Most cities in Punjab, a state in India, are now able to see the Himalayan mountains for the first time in over 30 years because of the clearance of the smog. Meanwhile, in Venice, Italy, the water in the canals is looking clearer than ever; overall reduction in boat traffic is allowing sediment to stay at the bottom.
Another significant impact from the reduction of pollution is that native animals are returning to their habitats. Because of the decreased amount of traffic and pollution in New York waters, residents have now been able to spot 5 whales in just 4 hours, compared to only seeing 1 whale a year. Venice has been a favorite tourist spot for years, attracting over 20 million visitors annually. However, the reduction of humans has allowed dolphins to return to the canals, a part of their natural habitat.
Amid all the unexpected benefits from the absence of human activity, one lies beneath the surface: seismologists are noticing how quiet the Earth’s surface has gotten. Seismologists have concluded that vibrations from human activity have decreased by 30% as people are not driving, walking around, and operating machinery as much. Because of less noise on the Earth’s surface, seismologists exclaim that the phenomenon is actually helping them detect seismic events like earthquakes, aftershock locations, ocean noise, and tectonic plate shifts, things they couldn’t even detect before.
We’re sure you have heard of coronavirus from the media, but it is important that you realize the enormous impacts it has and will continue to have on our economy, our social lives, and our environment. From social distancing to hearing about native animals returning to their habitats, coronavirus has impacted every single person on the globe. However, the virus has unexpectedly opened up a new perspective in people’s daily lives, one that allows them to view the altered reality of our new world.