Pandemic’s far-reaching effects will linger over many aspects of life
There is no question about the importance of social interaction. Many people who are doing their best to follow the safety guidelines surrounding COVID-19 are finding themselves shut away from those who are an important part of life. My wife Mary Jane and I have been blessed with a rich social life and have a tight group of friends with whom we gather once a week. Since the start of the pandemic we have not been able to meet at restaurants and for a time we didn’t meet at all. We have recently been able to sit on the patio and maintain distance so we can have some contact—and it has helped. The same applies to the office where we have adhered to the guidelines.
When it came time for everyone at the office to weigh in on working from home or not it was unanimous—come back to the office. In many businesses much will be lost if contact is only via phone or internet. There is an important aspect to the connection you get in face-to-face meetings. But there are concerns among employers about liability, and I think if an employee contracted the virus at work there may be a worker’s compensation claim.
In my mind the bigger question relates to the temporary closing of so many businesses. There are certainly constitutional issues and the question of whether the governor and elected officials really have the authority to force businesses to close. I also wonder about the possible penalties for those who choose to ignore the guidelines. Some businesses like small restaurants may never recover, and I suspect there will be lawsuits. Even though the federal government did try to help with loans.
As hospitals grappled with COVID-19, many people were unable to receive medical treatment for emergent conditions such as heart disease or cancer. Many are likely to suffer earlier deaths due to lack of medical care, and there is little that can be done about that. Long term this will have a large impact on our society. And it’s not over because people fear going into waiting rooms where they cannot appropriately space. Medical professionals are doing their best to have safe practices.
And access to the legal system has also crawled to a halt, especially for jury trials where it is difficult or impossible to seat 12 people in an appropriately distanced manner. We are definitely experiencing the snowball that turns into an avalanche as it rockets down the mountain. Both locally and worldwide this pandemic will certainly have long term negative effects on society. What we can all do is respect the safety guidelines and wear our masks.