One year later: Here’s how the global COVID-19 pandemic has changed lives
A year ago, the global COVID-19 pandemic shattered the world and changed everyone’s lives for good. And although the grim virus quickly became a reality, most people didn’t anticipate just how bad it would really be. As we look back on the eventful year, here’s how COVID changed life as we knew it.
March 11th: the fateful day
Though by March 11th, 2020, fear of the virus was already spreading quicker than the virus itself, things didn’t get real until this fateful day. During a short period of time, the World Health Organization declared COVID a pandemic, the NBA suspended its season, and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for the virus.
In a daily briefing, the World Health Organization’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, criticized world leaders for not taking the crisis seriously enough. “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.”
Ghebreyesus continued: “We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”
That day, there were a whopping forty-six cases in New York City, and the MTA was planning on implementing more severe sanitation efforts because of that. In addition, Mayor Bill de Blasio began to express concerns about public gatherings, and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was subsequently canceled.
The then-president Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office on March 11th, and severely downplayed the gravity of the global COVID pandemic. “The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low,” he said. “If we are vigilant – and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will – we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus.”
Trump continued: “The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States.”
In the following weeks, the concern regarding the global COVID pandemic only grew. Broadway announced a temporary shutdown, nonessential businesses were forced to close until further notice, and schools postponed or even canceled their graduations and moved classes online indefinitely. All of these things threw a huge wrench in the economy, overloaded hospitals, and forced millions to go on unemployment.
The year after COVID was declared a global pandemic, (and counting), became a sickening limbo of uncertainty & suffering. And, though many of our lives have been subject to intense mundanity, a lot has changed since March 11th, 2020.
Mental health crisis
A survey conducted by PARADE Magazine found that the mental health of many Americans has taken a blow due to the global COVID pandemic. 55% of people who participated reported having experience with mental health issues since March, and 74% of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds responded in the affirmative.
Of these respondents, stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness stuck out as the major symptoms. 33% reported feeling stress, 30% reported experiencing anxiety, 24% reported having symptoms of depression, and 24% reported experiencing loneliness. Many also claimed that they were so overwhelmed by the pandemic that they avoided the news altogether.
This has caused more people drinking, according to the JAMA Network Open Journal, who reported that alcohol consumption in the U.S. increased 14% over the past year. The authors noted: “In addition to a range of negative physical health associations, excessive alcohol use may lead to or worsen existing mental health problems.”
Not every aspect of the global COVID pandemic has been negative. Social distancing and quarantine has forced people to stay home, and subsequently made a lot of families closer. PARADE reported that 34% of their respondents feel closer to their families, and a whopping 78% stated quarantine made them value their relationships more than before.
In addition, people have been finding new ways of staying healthy. 62% of respondents claimed they have either been spending more time outdoors, eating healthier, sleeping better, or exercising more.