It’s January, the weather is cool, and the New Year is here, your mind focused on what’s in store for the next 12 months. “How will I be different?” “Am I getting that raise I’ve been asking for?” “Maybe I should get in better shape, I mean, spring break is just around the corner and I still smell like turkey stuffing from the last two months and I look like the turkey before we put it in the oven.”
I don’t think anyone was expecting the entire country of Italy to be a biohazard zone. No one was expecting the value of toilet paper to skyrocket to the value of their first born child and a security deposit. I certainly didn’t expect to see the members of my community taking numbers, waiting with scared eyes, then buying over 10 pounds of anything that looks like it was cut from a cow before rushing to the checkout line with angry stares following them as if they’d stolen it straight from the mouths of every child waiting back at home.
It’s nearly April now. I haven’t been to the gym to get my summer body, in fact I’ve lost weight (when you’re already skinny, losing weight isn’t a good thing). I haven’t sat down at a restaurant and had a nice meal with my family, nor have I had the patience to wait in the 45-minute long Starbucks line for a coffee. I haven’t “worked” in weeks. Time is slowly blending the days as quarantine has yet to be lifted and any non-essential personnel are advised to stay home whenever possible and anyone considered essential is urged to protect themselves from an the airborne menace through any means effaceable.
Rent is due for many people in the next few days, a large percentage have lived paycheck to paycheck until recently when the paychecks stopped. Americans who hadn’t reached a point of financial stability before COVID-19 are not likely to find it any time soon. Small businesses are suddenly without work with which to employ job-seekers and even worse, no work to keep them in business in the first place. Restaurants have had their chairs resting overturned atop tables for a few weeks.
Let’s talk about the Corona Virus and try to get an idea of what we’re in for.
This will not be the same for you as it will be for me.
The problems that have arisen recently affect us all in one way or another, but how will be different depending on who you are. The young and old have very different causes for concern as do the rich and the poor. Everyone is going to hear something about it on the news.
As for me, I am young, and not rich by any means. I can give you a personal account of what I currently experience and I have a pretty good idea about what’s on its way for me if things don’t start to look different. As it stands, my wallet is out fishing, I am not 100% sure where rent is coming from this month, and I hope it catches something because grocery store shelves are not going to start filling up any time soon. I wish not to exaggerate. There is food to be bought and things are by no means dire, but it has been less than a month. A long month at that. I am a Millennial fortunate enough to live in a beautiful city in Southern California. There are certainly worse ports to weather this storm in, but a storm nonetheless. I am fortunate to have multiple income streams as well as the ability to make money from home though not everyone can. For those in low income areas, things are already looking desperate. My girlfriend works as a merchandiser for a snack food company and she services stores in a low income neighborhood. She’s been working overtime and comes home exhausted regularly, but recently she’s come home emotional, tears in her eyes and her head down. When I try to make her feel better she tells me “You don’t have to see the looks on their faces,” “They don’t come to you asking if you know when the bread will be back, or when there will be toilet paper.” We haven’t even begun to address the actual virus. Those living in the lower echelons are experiencing the repercussions of panic, what happens when the herd starts to act out of fear.
For the well off and well-to-do, the economic downturn is still in it’s infancy, but still apparent, stock prices are down as businesses fail to show growth for the first quarter. For the financially literate it may actually be a great time to invest in real estate and other markets that have seen a decline from the economic slowdown but returns on those investments will likely be seen over a longer term. For members of the upper class, statistically an older demographic, the virus itself is where the realistic fear lies.
The Pandemic is Not an Equal Opportunity Provider
COVID-19 is a novel Corona Virus, its specific makeup is fairly new to the medical community though there is research ongoing and new developments are made frequently in understanding COVID-19. The sickness is not especially deadly according to current figures provided by the CDC, less than 10% of those afflicted find their way to a morgue. Why then the hysteria? This is a numbers game. If there were 100 cases and 7 people died, the news would be silent after a day or two and we would all forget about it when the next I-phone dropped. COVID-19 however has not infected a mere hundred people. As of the date I write currently, nearly 700,000 people have contracted COVID-19 globally. The majority being here in America and in Italy with China and Spain not far behind Italy. The fear with COVID-19 exists due to its highly infectious nature. It took 2 weeks for the death toll in America to rise from 1 to 100, then a single week to rise from 100 to 1,000, currently the American death toll is over 2,000. Globally over 30,000 people have lost their lives as a result of the Corona Virus.
Why then the equal opportunity comment?
Well, diving into the statistics yields COVID-19’s particular taste for the older amongst us, those with compromised immune systems and those who are not in the best physical shape. The young, as it seems for the moment, can come down with Corona and experience flu symptoms for a short period of time before their bodies effectively fight off the virus themselves. Death rates among the young are quite low and there has yet to be a death of an infant. That statistic changes for the older demographics. Death rates for those past retirement age are significantly higher. Less than 1% of those under the age 50 who were infected have died as a result, after 50 we start to see that percent start to rise. After the age of 80, nearly 1 in 5 cases has been fatal.
Until vaccines are developed and cleared by state health agencies for use en masse, COVID-19 will be a continuously developing situation. There will be more than just the economy at stake, society will change as a result.
Stay healthy out there, the CDC website has a page devoted to preventing the spread of Corona Virus (COVID-19) and I urge you to have a look and make sure you are not putting yourself at risk any more than you need to.
My name is Suede, urban mystic and perpetual student. Thanks for reading my ramblings!