When news of the coronavirus was first released, most people thought it would come and go like flu season. Little did they know that this pandemic would linger for months in the United States and continue to affect the world at large. Once stay-at-home orders were lifted, some citizens tried to resume living their normal lives. However, world culture has visibly changed with the introduction of COVID-19 into over 189 countries.
Until doctors develop a successful vaccine to prevent and possibly treat COVID, most public places will likely require their employees and customers to wear masks and maintain social distancing protocols—especially given that this unprecedented virus can infect people without displaying clear symptoms. Employees in stores and restaurants are now obligated to wash their hands frequently with the intent of killing germs before they have the opportunity to spread.
Many argue that, even after a vaccine, people will pay more attention to their physical contact and proximity with others. The virus’ threatening mortality rate and wide-ranging symptoms have instilled fear in society and potentially influenced how the next decade will play out.
Elena Velasquez ’22 said, “I think the long-term effects will include taking better care of our hygiene, and maybe social distancing in public places.”
Yes, social distancing and mask culture will undoubtedly persist. But according to Government Executive, the pandemic will also produce long-term effects in the political and healthcare worlds. Experts foresee a shift in telemedicine and healthcare coverage. In addition, coronavirus could result in more support for a public, universal healthcare system rather than private life insurance companies. The virus can affect anyone in any condition and age group, so unexpected health costs are liable to increase.
As for some of the political challenges, this virus could change how countries communicate; instead of looking at the crisis together, national leaders feel inclined to focus on internal crises instead of how coronavirus has impacted other parts of the world.
Even speaking long-term, schools and universities might opt for online learning to ensure student safety while complying with government health recommendations. Social distancing at school can be nearly impossible, so some institutions have contemplated having some school days online and others in the typical classroom setting.
Randal C. Picker, a law professor at the University of Chicago, marvels at how universal access to technology has enabled schools to continue educating their students. For example, he mentions that “the technology and infrastructure for remote learning has been building in the United States over the last decade, making the huge push online possible,” as Government Executive summarizes. Although this has been a time to experiment with technology, we can thank twenty-first-century advancements for helping us keep in touch.
The pandemic seems to be affecting everyone in the workplace—not just students, educators and politicians. All kinds of businesses, ranging from local stores to large franchises, now operate online and split their employees’ shifts differently. Of course, some businesses have either gone bankrupt due to fewer customers or laid off their workers temporarily. Few people have an idea of when, or if, these companies will return to normal circumstances.
New Texas regulations require that public places only permit 25 percent capacity to encourage social distancing and thereby slow the spread of disease. The state stay-at-home order was lifted on May 1, but precautions still need to be taken as much as possible. Cleanliness measures are being incorporated into everyday life in public facilities to protect the health and safety of the larger community.
Amid all the speculations and prognostications, however, remains recognition that 2020-21 will usher in many changes to the world which we have known.