Pandemics are not a new phenomenon. There have been global pandemics in the past such as the Spanish Flu pandemic that killed over 5 million people worldwide between 1918 to 1920, and more recently, the SARS pandemic that killed hundreds of people worldwide. However, what makes the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic deadlier than its counterparts is due to the fact that, unlike previous century, the world is now more connected due to globalisation, and secondly, due to the virus’ to transmit very quickly from one person to another.
At the time of writing this blog, the Covid-19 virus has already claimed over 35,000 lives worldwide. People and their respective governments are grappling to contain the devastating effects of this deadly virus, either through voluntary or state enforced lockdowns. However, experts fear that the deadly virus would not only test individual resilience, but also the resilience of public healthcare systems. Its impact on world economy would be devastating, if not worse.
This week, the US Congress approved a 2 trillion dollar bailout package to help its economy absorb the after effects of the pandemic. It was the largest bailout undertaken by any country in human history. And while the package might provide some cushion against economic misery, a lot remains to be done to ameliorate the effect of the pandemic on society, social values and human psychology.
In this blog, Student Cover brings to you the possible after-effects of Covid-19 outbreak on the US.
1. Impact on Healthcare System in the United States – Despite the US having one of the best healthcare infrastructures in the world, healthcare is a highly controversial subject in that country. This is because, unlike countries like the UK, healthcare in the US is highly commercialised which makes treatment one of the costliest in the world. Most Americans depend on health insurance companies to meet healthcare cost. However, having health insurance doesn’t completely insulate a person from financial crisis. The high out-of-pocket expenditure in the form of co-pay, co-insurance and deductibles puts extreme financial burden on people. The long pending demand for public-funded healthcare system mirroring the National Health Service (NHS) of UK, may find traction during the upcoming presidential elections. Democratic party’s presidential contenders like Senator Bernie Sanders have been openly advocating free healthcare for US citizens for quite some time now. The current crisis may force policy makers to have a re-look at the existing healthcare system in the US and take steps to make it more socially oriented service instead of being just another area of commercial activity to derive profits from.
2. Impact on Student Debt – Despite being home to a vast majority of top class academic institutions in the world, getting higher education is not a child’s play in the US. The high cost of education coupled with shrinking job opportunities and falling wages, has created an army of college and university graduates who are buried neck deep in student loan. The total student debt currently stands at $1.5 trillion. This amount is higher than the GDP of a majority of nations on this planet. The impending recession due to Covid-19 pandemic might lead to job attrition and pay cuts thereby causing a domino effect resulting in higher loan defaults. This could force the federal and state governments to undertake measures to finally address the issue of student debt. The government might be forced to announce, at least partial relief to borrowers either through debt write-off or tax credits.
3. Impact on Immigration Policy – Ever since Donald Trump took oath as US President in January 2017, he has been unrelenting on his quest to check the inflow of migrants from other parts of the world to the US. Besides going to the extent of declaring emergency to attain executive power that allows him to override the US Congress’ objections on funding his border wall along US-Mexico border, president Trump has jealously pursing policies to check the inflow of even the talented lot to the US.
He even used the pandemic to remind people about the importance of having borders. This crisis may further strengthen his resolve to check the migration of people from other parts of the world to the US. In future, he might even cite economic recession to further restrict the number of H1B visa issued and may use ‘Americans First’ rhetoric to further justify the clampdown.
4. Impact on Society, People’s Morale and Race Relations – One of the biggest worries that everyone has with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic is its impact on society and people at large. If the spread of the pandemic continues unabated in the US, then US like many other nations might be forced to take measures that are more than general advisory to public to follow social distancing. Unlike countries like China where the state often uses brute force to make citizens follow its diktat, people living in democratic countries like the US are not use to restrictions. The strict enforcement of lockdown order by the state may leave a long-lasting scar on people’s psyche.
Moreover, if the spread of pandemic is not checked in time, it could also lead to mass hysteria and panic as very soon hospitals and medical institutions might run out of beds and ventilators available for the sick. The scarcity of resources might reignite the race tension in the US leading to increase in incidents of racial violence and abuse. Worst case scenario, people of Asian origin, especially those US residents of Chinese origin might be at the receiving end of prejudice and discrimination from fellow Americans.
5. Impact on Foreign Trade and Relations – The coronavirus pandemic might force the western world led by the United States to reconsider its dependence on China for cheap products. There are already talks of US companies shifting their factories, lock-stock-and-barrel from China to other parts of the world in order to minimize the risk in future. US President Donald Trump has already pointed fingers at China and indicated that he would not mind holding China, or at least the ruling dispensation in China, responsible for the current crisis. His repeated use of the term ‘Chinese Virus’ during several press briefings indicate that the current administration might project China as the main villain and culprit in the pandemic saga. If this happens, this would further affect the precarious trade relation between the two countries.
Let’s Wrap Up!
The full extent of impact of Covid-19 pandemic can only be assessed after it gets over. Nevertheless, it is likely to have both short-term and long-term consequences for the US. Other than impacting its domestic policies related to healthcare and student debt, it is likely to push the US to make immigration more difficult. The impact of pandemic on society and people would be equally devastating and may re-ignite race tensions in the US. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic might also adversely affect the already strained relation between the US and China.
Disclaimer: The content of the blog above is based on personal research of the writer. Readers’ discretion is advised. Neither Student Cover nor the writer will be held responsible for any wrongful interpretation of the content of this blog.