Life After the Virus

Image+courtesy+of+Imtonline.com

Image courtesy of Imtonline.com

Ana Clara Monaco, S&G Editor

In a matter of months, the coronavirus has changed the life of every single person on the planet: dominating conversations and media outlets, canceling plans and restricting freedoms, shutting down cities and killing hundreds of thousands. As we witness these effects take hold on the Earthly community, many have begun the long-anticipated discussion: what next? Although the numbers are once again rising, experts are mapping out life after the virus: a mourning world, weary of its previous ambush and cautious of its next, navigating the unprecedented terrain of restructuring and improving upon societal customs and attitudes. 

Weeks before the first cases arose in the United States, the country was becoming a battleground for the debate over climate change and global warming; experts predicted that a failure to act within 10 years would cause great implications for the future, likely an irreversible global catastrophe. The New York Times warned of accelerating damage – storms, heatwaves, the melting of glaciers; the UN estimated the final environmental point-of-no-return as 2030; any hope of preventing the seemingly-inevitable stemmed from significant change or, unexpected at the time, a pandemic. Weeks after the mandatory lockdown, small silver linings arose globally: satellite images displayed Italy’s clear canal water- an event that had not occurred in years due to toxic waste and tourism; regulation of businesses had extremely improved the air pollution and reduced the concentrations of ozone in the United States, specifically in states notorious for poor air quality; a study led by Yale researchers reported a significant decrease of air pollution levels in China. There is often a rebound that wipes out cuts in emissions from a recession, yet the improvements on ecological conditions provide hope for continued responsibility regarding one’s ‘carbon footprint’ and subsequent positive change. Companies are restructuring future business strategies to accommodate for permanently-remote workers, schools are shaping and creating a curriculum based on technology and virtual materials rather than paper supplies, individuals are reducing consumer spending and utilizing eco-friendly modes of transportation.

 

Behavior after the pandemic will be greatly altered, as months of mask-wearing and sanitizer-applying will not simply be forgotten in a matter of weeks; the world will be “walking on eggshells”, says Atlanta worker Denita Jones. A lack of trust in the vaccine and the efficacy of CDC reports will foster widespread fear that expands beyond the official conclusion of the virus; sanitizers are here to stay and comfort among maskless groups will take time to develop. Age-old diversions such as restaurants and movie theatres will likely be unable to fully recover. The peaking employment rate of 15% will prove a worthy opponent to the future President and his administration. Disproportionate accessibility to treatment and hospital space among Black and Latino communities may widen the social and economic divide. May, likely, possibly – it is impossible to predict life after the pandemic; pick a concern and it is accompanied by question marks. Yet, as those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it, the world will adapt to overcome the pandemic and prevent anything in its likeness from occurring again. This will not be a snow day, after which the sun will shine again, the snow will melt, and the world will return to its previous condition: untouched, unaltered. The world we have lived in for so long is, in many ways, never coming back.