As a result of the novel Coronavirus and COVID-19, as well as the President’s and his administration’s failure to competently respond to it, the United States of May 2020, let alone November 2020, will be unrecognizable from the United States of January and February 2020.The novel Coronavirus and COVID-19 is going to scramble American politics, society, and economics. And possibly religion when someone who is not-Catholic and pregnant goes into a Catholic hospital because it’s the only health facility available and dies from Coronavirus because she can’t get an abortion. I’m not sure what the US will be come June, let alone November, but it is going to be unrecognizable to the US of the past two months.
Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer have demanded that the President include a relief package for Americans who may become infected with COVID-19, become caretakers for those who do, and/or lose their employment or small businesses as a result of the novel Coronavirus. This includes paid sick leave and expanded unemployment assistance to keep dollars flowing so that Americans can pay their bills, which will also keep liquidity in the economy. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that he is going to submit a bill to the NY state legislature to provide paid sick leave to New Yorkers who are quarantined. I expect that as the novel Coronavirus spreads and the number of COVID-19 infections increase, that we’ll see more Democratic led states take similar action to what Governor Cuomo is undertaking and what Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer are calling for. I expect that most Republican led states, especially in the deep south (old Confederacy) and the border states that have been colonized by neo-Confederates will not. They’ll scream for Federal assistance and then do what they always do when it comes in – use it to plug other budgetary holes by creating a series of means and administrative tests that make it almost impossible for anyone to qualify.
But other changes are coming as well. One of the most difficult problem that universities have had in trying to do distance education is getting it to scale. As well as to overcome the real differences in effects between having in person access to the faculty in the classroom versus virtual access in a virtual classroom. As more universities and colleges transition to a virtual model to prevent transmission, I expect that we will see pressure build to maintain this transition once the crisis passes. And that pressure will come from administrators, boards of trustees, and state legislators for public universities as it will be cheaper. There will also be calls to maintain more of this capacity because it would open up opportunities for students who can’t afford the campus experience of tuition, fees, room, and board, but could afford a remote education. And this will eventually trickle down to high schools. I grew up on a university campus, have advanced degrees in four disciplines, and am now a recovering academic, so I can honestly say that if there is a way for money to be made by a university without having to pay for tenured faculty, administrators will support it.
You’re also going to see an increase in self directed social distancing. People will change their behavior regarding going to restaurants as they aren’t going to want to risk having someone they don’t know and can’t see preparing and handling their food and drinks. You’re going to see a similar issue at the grocery store as people are going to start avoiding the deli counter, the butcher and seafood counters, and the deli because they just are not going to risk having these products handled even by people in gloves and hair nets. Concerts, sporting events, religious services, and other group social events are going to be effected. Several sporting events have already announced that they will be played, but without onsite spectators. Japan is considering this for the upcoming summer Olympics. I have no idea what the Qataris are considering for the World Cup next year, but they are so far behind as it is, that who knows what they’re going to do.
The airline industry, the cruise ship industry, the travel and hospitality industries in general – all of them are going to go through serious upheaval. As will the nursing home, assisted living, and long term elder care industries. Risks of infections are always a threat in these facilities because the populations are those at highest risks. But now you’ve got people in Kirkland, WA screaming that their parents and grandparents are being sentenced to death because they’ve been quarantined in the nursing home that is suffering the outbreak. You’re going to see a similar problem in prisons and jails. Basically any place that people are housed for extended periods are going to be at risk for an outbreak. And the effects of an outbreak are going to force changes and reforms.
And we’re going to get a real time experiment of just how well or poorly the national, state, and local public health systems work when they are consistently underfunded or defunded. As well as whether a for profit health insurance and health care system can actually do what it has long claimed it can do: more effectively and efficiently provide care than governmental based system in the US could. I have my doubts, but Anderson is the man to keep us apprised of this.
By the time the election rolls around in November 2020, the United States is going to be a very different country – state, society, and economy – than it is today and has been for the first two months of 2020. The Democratic National Committee is already making plans for a virtual nominating convention. I doubt the Republican National Committee will because the President wants to have his spectacle, which is why he has made it clear they are going to keep doing rallies despite the negative follow on effects from CPAC. Pressure will build to make rapid changes to state election laws to either extend vote by mail/absentee voting for the November 2020 general election or go to complete vote by mail/absentee voting for it.
Anyone who tells you they know what is going to happen – politically, socially/societally, economically – between now and November 2020 other than the obvious of a widespread novel Coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak and epidemic and the resultant political, social, and economic disruptions is talking out of their tuchas. All of the pressure and stress that builds up as a result of what is happening could provide the opportunity for the US to move in a far better direction in terms of social insurance; health care funding, access, and coverage; and sound social safety nets. Or it could provide the opportunity for even more regressive and reactionary policies and practices. Either way, a lot is going to change. How much and in which direction are the outstanding questions.