After 3 months of the COVID19 epidemic, lockdown restrictions are now being eased in some states. However, experts are suggesting that social distancing measures are likely remain in effect for years to come. Many media outlets are saying that social distancing and wearing masks is “the new normal”. Is this a new lifestyle we can come to expect for the foreseeable future?
What impact will mandatory social isolation have on the economy? On our psychological health? Will government overreach with their powers in order to “track” the virus?
Is the lockdown working?
Evidence has shown that lockdowns have slowed the spread of Covid19 and help prevent deaths from this disease. Hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations have been avoided and have helped prevent our health care systems from being completely overwhelmed.
Yet hospitals are now beginning to struggle with layoffs and cutbacks. Our lockdown measures have deemed many profitable surgeries “non essential”. In fact, 1.4 million health care workers found themselves unemployed in the month of April. That number is exponentially higher than anything in recent years. This leaves way fewer health workers to treat victims of the pandemic. In the long run, this will cause hospitals to become overcrowded anyway.
What are the side effects of the COVID19 shutdown?
Hospital layoffs are not the only problematic side effect of lockdowns: The stock market has seen record lows as we see reported every day in the news. NYC transit will now be shutting down nightly to disinfect subways, which may require hefty federal reimbursements. College towns are struggling because students cannot attend school and are forced to stay home. Restaurants and other businesses that facilitate social gatherings are closing their doors for good, because they cannot maintain a business that adheres to social distancing guidelines. This will make unemployment rates go way up.
Social distancing is expensive for the United States and the world, and could easily have a significant negative impact on our economy. A tanked economy would result in a myriad of other large-scale health related problems and deaths that could surpass what the Covid19 illness would create on its own. Additionally, the implications isolation and joblessness will have on our psychological health could result in wide-scale PTSD. It has already been shown that the lockdowns are having effects on suicide rates and mental health worldwide.
Government overreach is another issue, as government officials are seemingly using this as an opportunity to assert more power than they would normally be allowed. The problem with government overreach when it comes to surveillance of citizens is already evident. In Paris, cameras are now on the Metro to enforce social distancing policies. Google has also been under fire recently for aggregating data to track who is complying with stay at home orders and who isn’t. Apple and Google are now also conducting “contact tracing” on behalf of governments, which means they will keep records of people who have been in close proximity to others who have the virus.
Should we reopen?
With our economy in shambles, our citizens traumatized, people going hungry, and big brother fully enforced – at least we can be grateful that we didn’t overwhelm the hospitals for a couple of months. We need to ease restrictions, while continuing to take precautionary measures, so that our economy can resume. Without a functioning economy, we cannot sustain our way of living and continue to be healthy.
Follow author @adezero on Twitter.