This second shutdown will have the potential to destroy lives and the American economy if it is not handled tremendously better than the last one.
The first time the U.S. had shut down, it was supposed to last two weeks. However, as case numbers rose and social distancing regulations were ignored, it became clear that those two weeks were not going to cut it.
It forced small businesses that are already struggling to permanently close their doors, causing a spike in unemployment and mental health concerns. The U.S. slowly tried to return to normalcy with restaurants beginning to re-open for indoor dining and stores allowing customers to shop inside again.
Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, we have another shutdown. For restaurants and other businesses that have managed to have stayed in “survival mode,” this means they are facing dire daily struggles, such as maintaining enough income to keep their doors open and facing dangers of potential backlash from customers.
The government has put programs in place to help small businesses reopen their doors. However, the funds were given to big banks that decide whether to risk investments or not. This led to a greater decline in Black-owned businesses and businesses in low-income communities.
The unemployment rate is still more than 6%, nearly double what it was in February of this year. A second shutdown could mean anyone who managed to get a job during COVID-19 has little job security and may be laid off again.
There needs to be a way for parents, families and people living alone to get money to pay for rent, food and necessities. However, it doesn’t seem like the government can afford a second stimulus check or higher government unemployment assistance again.
With everything going on, depressive symptoms have been on the rise. People are reporting more anxiety disorders, PTSD and even drug or alcohol relapses. With little to no outside contact unless absolutely necessary, people feel alone and stressed, which can make for a deadly combination. Luckily there has been no increase in the suicide rates since the first COVID-19 cases.
Stay-at-home orders have also led to an increase of Internet use, as well as Internet groups on social media like “Q” that divide our country. Wearing a mask has become more of a political debate than a safety concern because misinformation is so easily spread on the Internet. Longer isolation could lead to these groups gaining more traction again.
I truly hope that the current administration has a secure plan for how Americans will make it through. Otherwise, the damage that our economy and citizens face may be irreversible.