A Dose of Opinion

COVID-19's Huge Influences on America

August 9, 2020

COVID-19 started gaining prevalence in December, when the first few cases originated in China. The virus made its way to America, with only a handful of carriers that had recently travelled to China that were now spreading the virus all across the country. For me, schools were cancelled around mid-March, and we were ecstatic to receive the rest of the month away from school all of a sudden. As time went on, weeks turned into months, which turned into the rest of the year. Nobody recognized how big of an impact and how big of a deal this would actually become. It’s now August, and everybody is stuck at home, small businesses are shutting down with no profit, etc. We are very soon approaching September, which is when the next school year would start for me (some starting even earlier) and schools must figure out how to adapt and school districts must choose how the next year of school will be like: will everyone be in school? At home? Maybe a mix of both?

A world lockdown of this scale seems like something that would come out of a science fiction novel or movie, as a result of something as bizarre as an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse, yet in the real world, the monster becomes a very contagious virus that is not even visible with the naked eye. This period of time feels so surreal that it feels like a supervirus that would come straight out of the game Plague Inc., in which the player tries their hardest to kill the entire human population. Instead, we become the human population, and the virus is as deadly as it is because of the hubris of the human, an over-confidence that we fuel due to our inability, especially Americans, to follow guidelines recommended by doctors that would probably free us from COVID-19 much earlier, if it were to be followed.

However, what we envision is far from the reality, partially because the idea of a “free country” has gone straight into the heads of people that don’t wear facemasks and don’t take preventive measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s clear that lowering these spread of coronavirus is possible through strict regulations. Just look at the amount of China’s cases, at one point in time during the beginning of the pandemic, China had by far the most cases in the world, exceeding any other country by a far amount. Now the tables have turned, China’s quick action has lowered their rates to about 28th in most coronavirus cases in the country, while America has 4.5 million cases, almost double the amount of cases compared to Brazil, in second place with about 2.5 million cases. American citizens receive most of the blame, but the government is also partially to blame. Trump’s inability to react quickly and make decisions allowed the virus to spread across the country, and lead to the numerous cases in America. Trump then blamed the virus on China by calling it the “Chinese virus”. Instead of taking matters into his own hands and dealing with it on his own, China and the United States currently have poor relations, and a cold war type conflict could ensue if matters continue to escalate.

Whatever happens in the past can no longer be changed, but the damage inflicted upon Americans will leave a mark on all citizens, regardless of age. Our country’s economy has been shattered and America’s relationships with other countries have worsened. In addition, the United States of America current relationship with China might lead to a possible ban on TikTok, a social media app that is greatly coveted by American children and teenagers as a form of entertainment, and the removal of the app would be catastrophic for most teenagers.

It is obvious that America’s economy is at an all-time low, with an unemployment rate of about 10%, so most companies or businesses are not benefiting from this pandemic. Not only are most citizens financially insecure during such hardships, the longer the crisis holds out for, a lot of people will begin to be food insecure, especially if there is no source of backup income, such as an emergency savings account or valuables that they might frantically try to sell. Small businesses are closing down because of a lack of profit, and even large franchises aren’t even safe. We see this is true with Chuck E. Cheese, which didn’t quite go out of business, but did file for bankruptcy as a result of the coronavirus. Most stocks have been negatively impacted, as well. I remember that there was a period of time during the coronavirus outbreak in which stocks plummeted, and most people scrambled to sell their stocks while they still could, and the stock market had to shut down for the rest of the day, which is not a good sign.

However, being quarantined at home, a few companies thrive tremendously as a result of COVID-19, and those companies are online, since people are reluctant to leave the house, online companies or services receive tons of traffic. This includes Amazon, as the billion dollar company expands even more because more people are going online to purchase their goods. People might also want to save money, so they could use Honey, the free browser extension, which gets funded by companies through commission fees. Zoom is also used to communicate with others online, whether it could be for a job meeting, a class, or even just hanging out with others. With children stuck at home and unable to interact with others, the video game industry also thrives, as children and teenagers will stay at home and pass time by playing fun and engaging video games. Although we can’t complete errands and communicate with others in public anymore, this COVID-19 pandemic could spark a new way of living, and even after the pandemic ends, it could create a new age of technology, where everything can be accessed through buttons on an electronic device.

In addition, the American government led by Donald Trump has unfortunately given America a bad impression from citizens and authorities in various countries from Europe and Asia. In Europe, a study from the Europe Council on Foreign Relations in late April when COVID-19 just began gaining relevance, but it was before the riots in Minnesota, which, in my opinion, highlights Trump’s lack of restraint in being unable to exhibit control over the country, shows that overall, 59% of Europeans in nine different countries found that their view against America has worsened as a result of how the Trump administration has attempted to combat the coronavirus ineffectively. The survey did not consider the other national issues like the black lives matter movement, but it is safe to say that his negligent approach against social injustice would make European’s views on America even worse.

Such negative views don’t end with European countries, but America and China have begun to engage in a cold war type conflict. Donald Trump and Xi Jinping (Chinese president) haven’t spoken to each other since March, just when the coronavirus began rapidly spreading throughout the world. Trump seems to blame China for the spread of COVID-19 for the high death toll in America, by calling it the “Chinese virus” but he could have easily contained the virus’s spread if he had acted quicker and put in precautions when he saw how devastating the virus would become. In the same way, China has its own grudges from America, when China demanded 2 billion dollars to combat the pandemic as allies, but America refused to give them money. In fact, this conflict has destroyed trust between the two countries, and Trump is now taking a rather aggressive approach against China. Trump might ban popular Chinese apps such as TikTok and WeChat, which are very popular Chinese apps. TikTok is a very popular social media platform used by children and teenagers with short videos with dances, acting, trickshots, really any genre of entertainment. On the other hand, WeChat is another communication platform that is mainly used by Chinese people, in which users can talk to other users or join groups with people with similar interests. By banning those apps in America, users of such apps will likely be distraught, but it also means that these large companies will lose a large portion of their overall audience and profit. While some people don’t care about the ban of either of these Chinese apps, some people who regularly use TikTok or have gathered a large following on the app would rightfully be very upset. This includes Addison Easterling, known as Addison Rae on TikTok, who would have to go to college for an actual job, if TikTok shuts down. If WeChat is removed, a major form of communication will be removed. If you meet any Chinese person, there is a high chance that the person has WeChat. The app has naturally turned into the accepted Chinese communication app, so the removal of the app would be very negative for the Chinese community. Although the country China seems to be in somewhat of a pickle, I feel as though China has more leverage in this situation long-term, with Donald Trump facing reelection soon. If Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump for the presidential position, Biden (a democrat) might be less aggressive and more rational, so sorting out a logical deal for China would be easier, and a resolution might be reached without much conflict.