COVID-19, or what many are referring to as the coronavirus, is one of the biggest epidemics to ever hit our planet in the modern era. We can’t gather in groups, our favorite sporting events have been shut down, the economy is suffering drastically, citizens are out of jobs, and our schools have been moved to online platforms. We, as the human race, have never seen anything quite like this. The stay at home orders are impacting our day to day lives the most, and it shows. Businesses and corporations have had to make huge adjustments to online communication vs. working in a building together.
The statistics are proof that this is starting to harm the well-being of U.S. citizens. A third of Americans say someone in their household has lost a job or taken a pay cut as a result of this virus. 20% of people have either been laid off or lost their job, while 27% have had to take a pay cut from their place of work. This virus has been seriously impacting the Hispanic community above all other ethnicities. While 17% of caucasian workers in this country have lost their job or been laid off, that number for Hispanics is 29%. The age group of 18-29 seems to have also taken the worst of this, standing at 24% of individuals losing their jobs. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that these numbers are absolutely staggering when you consider the fact that over 328 million people live in this country. What’s even worse to think about is that the people living in this country on a low income salary are suffering the worst.
I had the chance to talk to one of my friends Blake Behney over the phone about this virus. Blake works in a distribution warehouse in the Harrisburg area, and this virus has put him out of a job. “I’ve been working at Allen Distribution for over two years now. I’ve been trying to put some money aside so I can go back to school and finish getting my degree. And to be completely honest, this virus is ruining my plan in the worst way possible. I’m not sure when, if at all, I’ll be able to return to work. They laid me off about a month ago and I’ve gotten no emails or calls about when they’ll be opening back up again. And considering the fact that I need to buy groceries and pay bills, I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to return to school in the next two upcoming semesters. It really does suck.”
A survey of U.S. adults was conducted by PEW Research Center back in late March concerning how seriously people are taking this outbreak. The data from this survey claims that while 26% of people in their community are overreacting to the outbreak, 27% aren’t taking it seriously enough. That means about 46% are reacting in the right way; this is less than half of the people in a community. However, these numbers change pretty significantly when the focus switches from ordinary people in a community to ordinary people across the country. For this sample space, 31% are overreacting, 40% aren’t taking it seriously enough, and only 28% are reacting about right. I’m no data analyst but these statistics prove, if anything, that people in this country are contributing to the problem.
My friend Caroline Hills talked with me over FaceTime about how this virus has impacted her financial situation. Before the outbreak, Caroline worked at a local bar in the 717 area. Since restaurants and bars have been shut down by the government, she’s been unemployed since late March. This has forced her to move back in with her family due to financial struggles. “I had money put aside to live independently, but it got to a point where I had no choice but to move back in with my parents. Living on a bartender’s salary is hard enough as is, and the fact that I’m now out of my job has put me into an incredibly difficult situation with money. I understand that we had to shut down businesses, but it’s coming with a huge cost. I feel terrible for the people who are in the same situation as me but don’t have families to lean on during times like these.”
There has also been a sharp rise in shares of Americans saying that the coronavirus is a major threat to health, economy, and personal finances. PEW Research Center provided the statistics for this concern as well. With data collected from March 10th to the 24th, the percentage of people who said the outbreak is a major threat to the personal health of U.S. citizens had risen from 27% to 36%. Along with this, the number of people who said that the economic impact on our country will be a recession is 48%. The rest claimed that it will either result in a depression or simply an economic slowdown.
This virus is something that everyone needs to be taking seriously, regardless of their situations. Part of the reason why the number of fatalities hasn’t been higher is because of the fact that we took proper measures early on by shutting down businesses. It isn’t a joking matter; although younger people are less likely to die from this virus, that doesn’t mean they can’t contract it and give it to someone who is older and more vulnerable. I want to get back to the way things were as much as the next guy, but that’s not going to happen until the numbers go down. And the only way for the numbers to go down is to stay inside as much as possible and be safe.