by Katelyn To
The world as we know it will never be the same following this unexpectedly large pandemic. While we will see inevitable drops in the number of cases of COVID-19, its effects will certainly linger for centuries to come, and maybe even permanently. Much like any detrimental and out-of-the-ordinary historical event, such as the 9/11 terrorist attack, to name a more recent event, American citizens will begin seeing changes in government regulations, societal behavior, the workforce, the service industry, and more.
Before I discuss what could theoretically change in post-coronavirus America, let’s look at Wuhan, China—a place that has already lifted its lockdown. Wuhan began its lockdown on January 23 and officially ended it on April 8. However, they are far from returning to normal; nearly everyone still wears masks. Of course, there is a large divergence in cultural norms when comparing East Asia to the Western side of the globe, but it is still possible that some people in the US maintain face mask usage for a while. People in Wuhan must also frequently prove their health with a health code app, which displays a green code if one is healthy. They may also have their temperature taken, such as when leaving the city.
While China and the US differ significantly from culture to government, we may expect to see similar regulations. It is difficult to imagine that our government would go to the great lengths of taking people’s temperature and requiring proof of health at common public facilities like public transportation (from looking at America’s current lack of testing and delay in response to the pandemic). However, routine tests could possibly be a new reality for large events, such as concerts, sporting events, or music festivals.
We will likely begin to see more people working from home as well. Now that many employees are aware that it is actually quite possible to work from home, despite what they had known before, some people may realize that they prefer working from home rather than commuting. With more people working at home, the need for office space would consequently decrease.
With work and schooling taking place at home, as well as stay-at-home orders, there is now a rapidly growing reliance on digital services, from video conference platforms to grocery delivery services. Such services that do not rely on physical encounter have the upperhand now, and this may signal a transition from reliance on in-person business to online business.