The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has had some unexpected effects in the world. Namely, just one month ago, the idea that the entirety of the US would close its doors and adhere to social distancing was unheard of. Now, however, the aggressive restrictions put into place to stop the spread of the virus are simply life as we know it for the foreseeable future.
The most notable sector affected by these closures have been local businesses. While the extent of social distancing measures varies from locality to locality, most of the country is currently under some form of stay-at-home order.
Needless to say, outside of grocery stores, in-person shopping is all but a thing of the past.
Many “non-essential” businesses have closed their doors altogether. Specialty shops, restaurants, and bars are likely not even allowed to open, depending on local laws.
Some restaurants might have moved to curbside pickup and drive-through customer service only. The same is true of some “semi-essential” businesses which sell computer equipment, hardware, or the like.
Even among stores that have stayed open, shorter hours and more restrictions are the rule, not the exception. Many grocery stores are closing several hours earlier and encouraging guests to wear masks and gloves.
Almost all of them have instituted strict rules about how many packs of toilet paper or other necessities people can buy to crack down on panic-buying.
Day-over-day, the US has seen unemployment claims soaring. According to updated numbers, as many as one in nine Americans are currently out of work.
What’s more, many of these people were likely underemployed or living paycheck to paycheck before losing their employment.
As healthcare is tied to employment in the US, millions losing their healthcare in the middle of a pandemic is far from ideal. As such, there is a recession, or, worse, a full-blown depression, growing on the horizon.
While the White House scrambles to assemble a coronavirus economic task force, millions of Americans wonder how they’re going to afford food, gas, and bills.
Medical experts largely are now in agreement that these measures have likely already saved thousands of lives. However, will the economic impact of the mass closures and layoffs be a knockout blow for the American economy?
Only time will be able to tell if American institutions are resilient enough to bounce back from this unprecedented interruption.