Most pressing impacts of COVID-19

President+Trump+gives+conference+regarding+Coronavirus+concerns.

photo via Wikimedia Commons under creative commons license.

President Trump gives conference regarding Coronavirus concerns.

Kate Shanahan, Staff Writer

It is well known by now that just about every country in the world has been impacted by the novel coronavirus by now. However, how will this impact America and the entire world? 

When the virus began spreading to America and other parts of the world, President Trump’s top economic advisers played down the potential economic and health impact COVID-19 would have on America. Now that the virus has claimed more than 3,000 American lives, it is apparent to all that the pandemic is no joking matter. 

Governors and officials from all over the country have effectively shut down large quantities of economic activity and a majority of Americans have been ordered to stay home until further notice. These measures have been taken to reduce the spread of the pandemic and relieve some pressure hospitals are facing with the overwhelming amount of patients. 

With all these new changes, economists vehemently predict America will be plunging into an economic recession. The negative impacts on the economy have been prominent in the 2020 stock market crash which began on 9 March when the Dow Jones dropped 2,013.76 points. Some have even labeled this as Black Monday 2020 because this was the Dow’s worst single-day point drop in U.S. history. A shocking ten million Americans have filed for unemployment in just two weeks. The speed and amount of people losing their jobs are without precedent. Until last month, the worst instance of unemployment was 695,000 back in 1982. 

The most recent drastic measure taken by the government was the historic economic relief bill which will total about two trillion dollars. The bill includes checks for Americans and business loans in an attempt to shore up an economy shattered by COVID-19 effects. As an increase in economic decline accumulates, it is uncertain when the economy will find strength again as officials are debating when they can reopen shuttered sectors of the country. However, it is unclear how the White House is weighing the potential benefits of reopening the economy, in dollar figures or human lives. 

On the other hand, the impact of coronavirus shutdowns has not been all negative. The shutdowns have led to unintended climate benefits including cleaner air and water. In Venice, Italy, for example, the usually murky waters of the canals have begun to clear up with fish visible in the water. This is due to Italy’s efforts to reduce the virus from spreading which resulted in an absence of boat traffic. 

In other countries who have been under strict lockdowns to reduce the spread of the pandemic, there have been notable decreases in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Satellite observations have shown these drastic changes in the environment prominently over China and Italy. Most gas emission is tied to industrial, electricity production, and transportation, which all came to a grinding halt. 

Satellites began to observe a notable change in air pollution when China first began a strict quarantine protocol. The satellites measured the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, a byproduct of cars, power plants, and industrial factories. When satellite images from 1-20 Jan were compared to that of 10-25 Feb, the difference was unmistakable. 

Because Italy’s climate followed the pattern of a quarantined China, it is expected that America and other countries being locked down will reap the same environmental benefits. Already in New York City there has been a 28 percent drop of air pollution over the same time-frame observed in China. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue saw a 32 percent decrease as well. 

The pandemic and its impact on the world can be an opportunity to restart. Because the environment is healing, it is as though the world is at a clean slate, literally. With the threat of global warming and negative climate change hanging over our heads for years, the pandemic is a chance to restructure the economy in an environmentally friendly way.