May 28, 2023
May 28, 2023
The transformation of Facebook Generation to Face-Masked generation
The impact of Corona virus has been sudden, devastating and has changed the nation forever. More than 111,500 people have died from coronavirus in the USA, and there have been at least 1.7 million cases. The projection by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of USA) is over 123,000 deaths. It all started out as a trickle in mid-February has become a gushing flow now. The country has been in lockdown since March 15. Now, the efforts are being made to reopen back. However there are questions and concerns on the setting of pace of reopening plus evaluating the effects of quick reopening. Let us take brief overview of the impact of pandemic.
The news of pandemic being amongst us hit everyone with an unexpected shock and surprise to unprepared citizens. The net result of isolation and movement restrictions were first evident in the store shelfs for hand sanitizers, face masks, hand gloves and toilet rolls which were emptied by customers, as if these items will never ever be available in future. All major social gathering places, restaurants, stadiums, event venues, gyms, places of worship were closed and travel has come to standstill unleashing an unexpected vacuum in the lives of masses. Many older people have become dependent on caregivers, friends and family to help with getting the food, medical supplies and groceries as they stay sheltered within the four walls of the house, unable to leave. The little children have become irritated, because of the new curfew like restrictions have put children’s playgrounds and outdoors out of reach.
Life under Lockdown
Life under Covid had a sudden disruption almost like an earthquake or a hurricane. Now working from home was new norm through Remote-Ins, video conferences, Zoom classes/ lessons etc. YouTube performances instead of live events became the new norm. The sudden drop in vehicular traffic on the road presented the scenarios like curfew on the road. Now the people were not to be seen on the roads, and animals are coming to see where humans are. The gasoline demand dropped so suddenly that it prices dropped almost 1987 level. The car sales essentially tanked, but suddenly bicycle demand has skyrocketed. As all the lockdown population suddenly reconnected with childhood fascination of the bicycle. The bicycle traffic in the evenings is almost five to ten times higher. The bicycling has suddenly become something of fashionable filler for time in absence of other activities while providing some form of exercise.
The new trend for needs was curb-side delivery, house delivery while shopping on-line. All of a sudden the entire movie (making and screening) industry, travel, hospitality industry were standstill. Yet with more people spending time in front of their TVs have resulted in big boost to the subscription streaming services. Suddenly the subscription to video streaming as Netflix soared high and content downloading speeds were slowing because of increased traffic.
Even the parties took form of Zoom virtual events from home. Alternatively, people were visiting the houses of those intending to celebrate occasions to register their participation by honking their car horn from outside. Even the child birth, birthday, quinceanera, wedding and graduation celebrations have become a virtual patio events, or front yard displays. Many tech-shy people are getting to explore the connective power of the videoconferencing. Even the religious congregations have become a virtual Facebook event. The tragic effect of all of a sudden lockdown is that it also dried the spigots of donations, bringing those religious institutions close to financial brink when they are the most needed to provide support. Many folks who were regulars at places of worship were feeling suddenly deprived and disconnected.
The psychological impact of Corona Virus on the masses is that behind the backs of their minds, there is a constant lurking of claustrophobic feeling of being trapped. For the Americans used to larger than life living, it has been a tough act to shrink to. The result is masses not used to staying at home have started showing psychological impact of lockdown – frayed tempers, shorter fuses. All of sudden a strong feeling of loneliness has started gripping people. The sharp escalation in the number of cases of domestic violence is a pointer. The jobless numbers has climbed to 41 million which is whopping 14.7%. The daily wage earners are the worst impacted as their need for work and money forces them to become more prone to contacting the virus. The federal PPP (Paycheck Protection Plan) to small businesses to keep their staff on payroll has been a silver lining during the gloomy employment and business market for many employees and survival of small businesses.
The Sikhs decided to galvanize their ‘langar’ efforts at feeding the affected population and the primary responders. However the pandemic also had some Sikh medical professionals caught in a predicament - choice of keeping facial hair Vs serving the suffering community in need of medical care. It is sad that these professionals who had made numerous sacrifices in their life for their zeal to serve had to choose between keeping the articles of faith over to wear PPE in order to practice medicine and serve. No one should be put in such a tough position, to choose between up keeping their faith articles and their profession. More so, when alternatives capable of providing the requisite face protection to the professionals with their facial hair, are available. On a side note Prof. Simran Jeet Singh of New York has shared on Sikhnet website about his own family’s struggles of dealing with Corona virus. His having medical Doctor Wife working on administering care to Covid 19 affected exposed her to the virus. She brought home the infection from the hospital, and their two children 4 and 1 also contacted the virus making them spend sleepless nights. As of now the likelihood of contacting Covid in New York is 5%.
There may be a vaccine down the road to cure the pandemic and the pandemic may become history, but its lasting impact on the life styles will be tectonic. The post pandemic life style, workplace will not be same as before pandemic as more shopping and work will be done remotely from the houses. This pandemic has made it viable, now the lifestyle, workplace will be transformed forever. There will be impacts in other areas as how medicine is practiced, classes are conducted, travel-both business and recreational is transacted etc.
One thing that has clearly emerged from this pandemic is that USA was unprepared for it. As future reoccurrence of such pandemics is being projected we need to have a plan in place to handle such emergencies. We need to build up a strategic stock of PPE, respirators, make-shift hospitals and beds etc. just like the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Perhaps we need to have volunteer reserve para-medic corps that can be activated to supplement the regular medical infrastructure during such emergencies.
Although this article is an overall view of the impact in USA, yet it reflects the impact worldwide. For the first time the entire world has been gripped by it - the scale and dimension unsurpassed. Perhaps other nations also need to build, acquire such infrastructure for future pandemics. We are all in it together, though the experience in other nations could be slightly different because social, cultural, political, climate and traditions etc. The virus is going to bring a lasting change in the worldwide community. There is a strong belief among the section of the society that this pandemic is message to change our life styles and make them more family, faith oriented instead of just being material oriented, and consumption focused.