(Artwork by October Graham)

Artwork by October Graham

Unforeseen Effects of Covid-19

May 21, 2020

Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has completely taken over life as we know it. The pandemic originated in Wuhan, China and quickly engulfed most of the world with the United States becoming the epicenter of it all. This pandemic has radically affected all aspects of life in our country and community. From businesses closing down, restrictions being set on shoppers, everyone being confined to the seemingly increasingly small borders of their homes, this virus has left no one untouched. Obviously this disease is a very serious issue in and of itself. However, beyond that, it has highlighted and brought out issues in America that have been present far before citizens started getting infected. Issues of social disparity, structural flaws and relentless bigotry have all come to the forefront of politics since the virus began its dominating reign over our country. These issues have outlined how regressive and out of touch some Americans are and how desperately we need to combat these dogmatic attitudes.

One of the first trends that came to prominence with the introduction of Covid-19 was an onslaught of baseless xenophobia towards Asians and Asian-Americans. Numerous videos, social media posts and reports have showcased Asians being harassed out of the assumption that their race carries an innate correlation to the virus. Though this outlook is pathetically ignorant, it is also alarmingly telling. Racism and unfounded prejudice is more than prevalent in modern society and this virus has brought out much of those pent up feelings in people. When tragedy and panic ensue, many seek out a scapegoat to direct their grievances towards. That has been the case with the harassment towards Asians. 

In addition, double standards and disparity in race and social standing have made headlines and spurred controversy. Protests against the “stay at home” orders have popped up in numerous cities and communities. These protests have generated debate as many see them as further evidence of racial privilege and corruption in law enforcement. The protests have been  (or at least appear to be) led by a predominantly white crowd. However, efforts to calm down and control these gatherings by police have been minimal. This has stirred controversy as this attitude is largely a contrast to actions taken by law enforcement in past protests, ones led by a majority people of color. Though arguments can be made supporting both sides of the issue, the fact remains that Covid-19 has further exposed both racial and social tensions.

The virus has also outlined the flaws and shortcomings in our healthcare system. It is no secret that healthcare accessibility has been a very controversial issue among Americans for years. In this public health crisis, one riddled with fear and uncertainty, the biggest concern for many Americans is not the potential health risks from contracting the virus but rather the financial predicament that would come as a result. Over 30 million Americans don’t have health insurance and 44 million additional Americans have extremely limited insurance that makes the cost of medical care a lingering stress. In a time like this, people’s concerns should be centered on staying physically safe, not financially. Furthermore, even with ample efforts to “flatten the curve” to prevent the overcrowding of hospitals, many Americans have found access to testing and medical attention to be very limited. The only people who are consistently given treatment are those who are already heavily symptomatic and alarmingly sick. While this approach is for the most part understandable, the number of people requesting but not getting care raises flags for how ready our system would be for another outbreak of the coronavirus or a potentially even more dangerous virus. The fact of the matter is our health system favors the wealthy and leaves many people unattended or too financially stressed to even seek medical help in the first place and the outbreak of Covid-19 has outlined that even more.

As aforementioned, everyone has been affected by this disease in some form or another. While many people have gotten sick, social and political issues that have been part of American politics for decades have also skyrocketed to national prominence. While we’re doing what we can to combat and slow down the coronavirus, it’s equally important that we work to resolve the fundamental problems facing American society, even without the presence of a pandemic. So if no other silver linings can come from this worldwide tragedy, at least we can use it as an opportunity to repair and progress.