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How the coronavirus has totally transformed society in America

How the coronavirus has totally transformed society in America
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There had to have been thousands of Zoom business meetings sometime last March. For several months, commercials had one version of “in these extraordinary times” stamped on the items or services for sale. Americans had not seen the effects of a pandemic in a century, while many results of the coronavirus have headlined news programs for almost a year now. But the true effects of the pandemic will certainly stay with us for generations beyond the grisly death tolls and current economic crisis.

One impact has been positive. Lower social activity and increased mask wearing have led to a reduction of flu cases across the country, as cases declined 90 percent. But Americans today seek less medical care, which means other ailments could rise. This includes over 30 percent forgoing routine care and 12 percent delaying urgent care. Cancer screenings fell 50 percent since last spring, while chemotherapy rates declined double digits. The effects in the next decade could be calamitous.

Despite federal and state spending on health care, hospitals have now hit the reckoning point. Decreased routine care, elective surgeries, and other procedures have left hospitals in terrible financial condition, often unable to continue their operating budgets. In fact, the effects of the coronavirus have cost health centers over $50 billion a month. This sadly has resulted in $320 billion in losses and over 30 bankruptcies last year.

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No less serious are the effects of the coronavirus on our social fabric. The divorce rate fell last spring but later increased. There was a 10 percent to 25 percent rise in separations by the end of last year. Moreover, there was a decrease in the number of foster homes available for young people and a decrease in the adoption rates. Indeed, the lockdown restrictions made international adoption almost impossible for many families. Combine the stress of virtual learning and the reshaping of household financial means, and the true effects on everyday life are nearly incalculable.

The economic effects are felt on all sectors of the market. Perhaps most obvious are the shifts in dining and travel. Restaurants had a 30 percent decrease for dining sales, while the use of meal delivery apps more than doubled. These trends harmed the service industry, and almost 4 million leisure and hospitality jobs vanished, with the majority of losses for bars and restaurants last month. Further more than 110,000 restaurants have closed their doors permanently since the pandemic began.

The travel sector has also taken a beating. Christmas airline travel finally reached the highest point since March but security screenings were still down 60 percent from the previous year. Cruises are basically canceled until at least spring. As of last November, 70 percent of the hotel chains believe they could not last another six months without assistance, while the initial figures showed hotel occupancy down 80 percent. It appears that there will be no easy transition back to our old habits.

The current recession will also not be over in a flash. The damage and the prospect of inflation, increased taxes, and more regulation could instead bring about economic malaise. From February and December of last year, the number of jobs held in all industries declined 6 percent. New annual growth estimates are around 4 percent, not sufficient to make up for the initial slowdown in the pandemic. Cash infusions seem like a solution but are a return to failed policies that gave us the 2008 crash.

The effects of the coronavirus will be with us for decades. Aside from all the difficulties our health workers and families face, there will be unseen traumas that last beyond mass vaccinations. This country will overcome this challenge at great costs but only after a transformation second only to that which followed the Great Depression. But this era, however, once all is said and done, few would say “those were the days.”

Kristin Tate is a libertarian author and an analyst for Young Americans for Liberty. She is a Robert Novak journalism fellow at the Fund for American Studies. Her newest book is “The Liberal Invasion of Red State America.”