Take 5: The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus

The Wharton Global Youth Program that runs the Knowledge@Wharton High School online business journal and programs for pre-college students, is experiencing fallout from the coronavirus outbreak that emerged in China in December and has brought the world’s second-largest economy to its knees. In the past two weeks, for example, our Global Youth team has traveled to Brazil and India for the Region 4 and Region 2 Finals of the annual KWHS Investment Competition. But due to the virus, we have have had to scramble to reorganize the Region 1 Final, held each March at the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing. We now plan to hold the competition entirely online in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the participating high school students in China are literally on lockdown. We reached out to a few of them to see how they were doing. “I live right in Wuhan (where the outbreak started), so currently I have been staying at home for over one month without any outings,” says Yangyang Li, leader of one of the Region 1 top 12 investment competition teams from WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Language School. “My father is a doctor who was sent to manage the patients infected by the virus, and according to him the work he has undertaken in the hospital is extremely difficult…Our city remains closed, and many competitions and tests, including AMC (math), March SAT and TOEFL, have been cancelled in the last two months. Our daily life is greatly affected too, with hard-to-buy and expensive vegetables and hardly any shopping or eating out.”

Added Charles Chenxiang, leader of the Region 1 investment competition team Bitcoin from the Shanghai Pinghe School: “Due to the virus, my high school has put off the time for students to return to school. Instead, we will be having online courses. I fully understand the situation that the country even the whole globe is facing. Stay at home and avoid all contact is everyone’s duty and should be strictly obeyed.”

While 99% of coronavirus cases are currently in China, the outbreak is starting to spread, sparking great volatility this week in the stock market. We turned to our sister publication, Knowledge@Wharton, for some Wharton analysis about how the coronavirus – named COVID 19 — is impacting the world economy. Here are five quick insights from Wharton professors:

  • “This has many economic implications,” says Wharton management professor Mauro Guillen. “It has implications not just for China but for the entire world. The world depends on Chinese growth,” he says, citing both the country’s supply-chain role and consumer buying power. Base ingredients for key products like aspirin, Ibuprofen and antibiotics come from China, which could impact the availability of those products in coming weeks.
  • “The long-term repercussion quite apart from whatever happens now is that we’ve got a source of risk we hadn’t thought about,” says Marshall W. Meyer, a Wharton management professor emeritus who consults in China. “My view is there is going to be a big adjustment of global trade patterns unless we are really lucky and [the virus] goes away very quickly.”
  • Will the coronavirus cause companies to look at China differently in the future? “They are very likely to do so,” says Howard Kunreuther, co-director of Wharton’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center and professor emeritus in the operations, information and decisions department. In research with Wharton professor Michael Useem for their recent book Mastering Catastrophic Risk: How Companies Cope with Disruption, the authors contacted chief risk officers and leading executives at more than 100 S&P 500 firms on the most adverse risks they had faced in recent years. “Every one of them said we are now paying much closer attention to the potential consequences of catastrophic risks than in previous years because they are happening more frequently: the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the 2011 Japan trifecta (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident) and more intense natural disasters. Firms are now engaging in enterprise risk management to reduce the likelihood and consequences of future adverse events that will affect their operations and are asking questions, such as how safe is it for us to operate here?”
  • Is there something the U.S. can and should be doing beyond the $100 million that the U.S. government says it is prepared to spend to help China and other countries where the epidemic has spread? “It’s already daunting for China to be coping with this, but we have a trade war going on, and it would actually be in the best interest of the U.S. to stop the trade war” with China, says Guillen. “It would create a lot of goodwill and would give us a good relationship as opposed to a confrontational one…The U.S. can seek an agreement, but from a high moral ground — as in, ‘we know you are in trouble, let’s see what we can do about it.’”
  • “Many of us have been saying for years that it’s only a matter of time,” says Penn professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist Harvey Rubin, referring to the arrival of a serious epidemic or pandemic. “If we are lucky and this starts to abate and the mortality is relatively low, it’s unfortunate for the people who are sick and died, but next year or the year after something else could happen. The world needs to have not only medicine and health care infrastructure but also economic and information infrastructure. If there is some message here, it’s that this is totally predictable.”

Conversation Starters

How does the concept of risk factor into the economic discussion of the coronavirus?

Professor Mauro Guillen says, "It would actually be in the best interest of the U.S. to stop the trade war” with China. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Have you been impacted by the coronavirus? Share your story in the Comment section of this article.

26 thoughts on “Take 5: The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus

  1. In my small town the virus was never a serious problem until recently. Our towns around us have all freaked out and bought everything in the store. Our schools are getting let out this week. It’s unreal how much a virus has impacted the world and scared everyone.

    1. So true, Jolene! It is a world turned upside down! What will you remember most about this time? People are posting some very funny videos and memes to pass the time at home. Keep us posted on the ways you’re staying engaged in school work and learning while you’re out of school, even if you’re just taking hikes every day. I discovered a pair of Cooper’s Hawks making a nest this morning in our yard. Never would have seen all that activity if I was on the train to work! Stay well and keep on posting. Our Comment & Win contest starts Friday. https://kwhs.wharton.upenn.edu/competitions/kwhs-contest-comment-win/

    2. It has been insane how reading about a few cases of a new virus halfway across the world at the start of this year has turned into this global pandemic. I could never have predicted the amount this virus has impacted every single person when reading about it initially. Similar to you, our schools were closed mid-March and switched to online classes. I think as students, when school closed was when the nature and seriousness of this virus truly kicked in. What are your views on this?

      I am lucky that my school is still offering online classes and I have my family to provide support and even much needed social interaction in these periods. However, there are many people who are extremely vulnerable and do not have access to proper hygiene or healthcare in this time. I think it is important to also consider them and it has been so refreshing to see the campaigns on social media raising awareness and encouraging donations for those in need and also those that are our heroes at this time – healthcare workers.

      As you indicated as well, I am still a bit shocked as to how quickly this problem has escalated and I think the fear is slowly being seen around the world. During this time I think it is of paramount importance to be able to communicate with others (virtually of course!) and have a solid support system in place to ensure that fear and anxiety don’t rule over us.

      I am interested to hear more about your small town’s approach to this since I live in a big city. What measures have been deployed there?

    3. This is definitely a stressful time. However, it also reminds us to love the ones around us, to cherish our lives, and to work with others to solve problems

  2. During these unprecedented times, my community in Dallas, TX has been turned upside down. Schools are transitioning to distance learning plans (online school), restaurants only offer take-out or delivery options, toilet paper is out of stock at all major grocery stores, and constant worry has altered our everyday lives. However, this has all happened in the last week. For others around the world, especially the high school students in China mentioned in the article, this has been their new “normal” for months. It amazes me how this article, which was written over three weeks ago, seems out of date. With the fast spread of this virus, there is a constant flood of new information, recommendations, cases, and deaths.

    Just the other night at dinner, my family and I were talking about the amount of people with COVID 19 in Texas, which at that time was around 20 cases. Now, there are 236 people infected (according to The New York Times). Even though more officials are encouraging social distancing, it seems that some people do not take this seriously. This frustrates me because they must not see the impact that they have on helping to spread this virus.

    It is hard to imagine what life will be like when all of this is over. I know that we will never be able to return to how our daily lives used to be. The negative impact of this virus on businesses, both small and large, is unimaginable.

    1. Yeah, I totally agree with you, Emma. We did not expect the virus to spread this quickly. It was a very sudden event. I remember my teachers telling us that there was absolute no chance school would be cancelled, later to be announced that school would close the next day. As we all are fighting this virus together, not only do we need to united as Americans but as humans across the globe to get through this.

    2. Hi, Emma. I felt the same way after reading your comment. In the past few months, everything has happened so unprecedentedly that there is no time left for astonishment at all. From the outbreak of COVID-19 in China to the fact that things are getting better now, it seems to be just a blink of an eye. Rather than immersed in the rapid spread of the virus, I prefer to think about the policies or decisive actions that China has promulgated over the past thousand days and nights.
      In terms of daily life, the Chinese government has built temporary hospitals. Many cities were blocked, and every street is still equipped with police and medical personnel, for measuring body temperature to ensure the safety of the public. At the same time, the Chinese government-chartered flights to pick up foreign students back home, and in the process of entering the country, they set up one inspection level after another to ensure that they aren’t infected.
      From the microeconomic side, the government chose to decrease business tax on SMEs despite its reducing revenue for maintaining their operations and made public services more available whether to individuals or businesses in order to make sure that constant outputs (real GDP) can be yielded. Consider the economic damage caused by the pandemic, the government decided to increase the deficit budget. On the other hand, the central bank took immediate action as increasing the supply of money to reduce interest rate which belongs to expansionary monetary policy. This is another way to guarantee plenty of real GDP can be generated.
      From the microeconomic side, as people’s demand for masks increases rapidly, the price of masks has been bid up simultaneously. The government implemented a price ceiling (set a maximum price for masks), followed by a shortage in quantity supplied. The same pressure is also faced directly by vegetables.
      I think the measures and methods implemented by China are effective both in terms of life and economy. However, deficiencies are also evident, such as inadequate medical facilities, which lead to avoidable deaths. Hope other countries can take deep thoughts according to their own situation, or China’s action as a reference.
      Overall, the horror and strength of the virus are undeniable and inevitable. Rather than marvel at the data reported in the news, it will be more sensible for us to at least contribute something for the society and the country, such as self-quarantining. I think that in this case, governments should respond and take action quickly, or the confirmed cases will only rise. I sincerely hope that the pandemic will be brought under control as soon as possible.

  3. The virus is just know coming to my city and it’s affecting us slowly bite surely. Our city goes on lock down Thursday the 26 and btw I live in Charlotte. Many things are getting shut down people are out of work and having to stay home . I work also but my job still open we are just very strict On some things. I can’t wait for all this to be over so we can enjoy our daily lives even more than we use to

  4. Our society is currently facing the miserable situation of the propagation of COVID-19. This situation has affected many factors of our daily life. For example, it has created a negative impact to the economic market, industries, or businesses. Additionally, this has changed our social lives. I live in Puerto Rico, and due to the transmission of the virus, we are currently on lockdown. Schools, universities, and many businesses are closed; but in order to keep up with the academics, my school is using the distance learning program (online classes). Overall, it’s hard to believe the situation that we are facing and the impact it has caused to our community. In order to enhance our health and go back to normality, we must remain calm and have a positive mind that this will eventually get better.

    1. Hi Patricia. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Puerto Rico has been through so much! First, the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 and even an earthquake earlier this year. This lockdown can only hinder PR’s recovery. You’re right, positivity will help fuel your comeback. We will have brighter days!

  5. Universal fear of the coronavirus, hypothetically analogous to the positive effects of nationalism throughout world history, not only tore away the roots which connected society, but also created an unthawable mutual distrust between people. Instead of unifying the affected nations, racism arose and pushed the age-old “they started it” game back into play. Slipping out a small achoo leads to immediate expressions of disgust and segregation from the people around you, and although the acts of distancing from all potential contaminants are absolutely necessary, the degrading attitudes need to go. In correspondence with the economic recession mentioned above, the gold “Made in China” stickers no longer wear their gold medal as customers shy away from these products. My grandparents reside a few provinces southeast of Wuhan and have already received slips to buy a rationed sum of groceries at the sole standing grocery store in their neighborhood with strict bans on talking. The center square famous for senior dances, blasted traditional Chinese music that can be heard blocks away, mahjong games, rowdy matchmaking services, and loud bargaining with street-side vendors has turned into nothing but a vacant plot of land. The health concerns are highly alarming, but we seem to have forgotten about the core of our personal ethics and the looming pitfall of self-esteem and mutual trust because we truly are all in this together.

    1. Hi Grace. I appreciate your perspective very much. It sounds like you have witnessed and experienced some negativity and even discrimination since the coronavirus outbreak began. I agree that people have been distrustful, fueled by so much uncertainty and fear. As each day passes and the news reflects many stories of sadness and heroism, people seem to be more vulnerable and less distrustful. I feel there is more of a feeling that we’re all in this together — whatever this is. Have you seen any signs of this in China, as well?

      1. I do not have firsthand experience of the uncertainties in China from America, but from what my relatives still residing in China say, neighborly bonds have been broken and children have grown distant from their usual playmates. For me, the gravity of the coronavirus almost felt “fake” on the first few news headers and only truly hit home when school cancelled for the rest of this school year!

        1. Hi Grace! It is interesting to hear that interpersonal relationships in China have begun to break down. I reside in the United States, but my parents are from Wuhan. My relatives there have only experienced heightened solidarity and friendship. Every night, many residents gather on their high-rise balconies to sing songs and cheer on medical workers. Although the past few months have been extremely challenging for all, I have only heard firsthand accounts of the bravery the Wuhanese have shown in the face of adversity. When the city just recently lifted its stringent stay-at-home measures, its denizens celebrated together, embracing each other’s presences, thankful for the passing of the long night.

          It is certainly intriguing how times of crisis can both bring out the best and worst in human beings. Even where this virus has hit the hardest, where no hope appears to be found, Man always finds a way to thrive, love, and endure. Faith in the human condition, a subconscious tendency to help each other out, is the only way we will survive this crisis—that is why Guillen believes broader international cooperation must and will materialize.

  6. The effects of the coronavirus have been very unprecedented. This article was written weeks before the outbreak began to occur in the US. Now, many schools are shut down and many states are on lockdown. It’s primarily because of the globalization of our world, which is something that we can’t reverse.

    Though I think in the short term, countries and people will be more distrusting and angry at each other because of the virus, I have hope that after the pandemic ends, or during, we will be able to unite with each other and share resources to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Personally, I have not enjoyed being quarantined. It’s not a fun experience at all because of the limited social interaction. However, that means that I have more time to spend with my family and more time to explore new things. Many businesses and schools have done a great favor for students like me by providing free access to online resources. It’s great to see how everyone is doing their part to help others. I also think it’s important for people to have optimism for the future. Sure, the virus is a huge rain cloud over our heads at the moment. But in the same way, we are all facing the same problems which means we can try to work together to find a solution.

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Lucy. I definitely concur that this pandemic will bring out the worst in some people. However, I disagree that any negative effects are unprecedented, nor do I agree that the short term will only warrant negative human behavior.

      Instead, I fervently believe that COVID-19 has exposed the human condition in all its blessings and flaws. One can easily point toward excessive hoarding and resale of sanitation supplies, heightened interpersonal distrust, and increased anti-Asian racism across the nation and conclude this pandemic only brings out Man’s worst. These issues are far from “unprecedented,” but rather an indicator of long-term, hidden prejudices that have plagued our world since its inception. Much like the anti-Muslim sentiment that followed 9/11 or the unnecessary hoarding preceding Hurricane Katrina, selfish individuals are not new to history. Times of crises expose people’s true colors.

      However, echoing much of your own optimistic sentiment, many more individuals have only shown generosity and leadership in this uncertain time. Personally, I have witnessed my own school community band together to launch a remote-learning website, complete with the student-teacher interactions we have all come to take for granted. I have seen my classmates host a web-based musical concert for senior citizens. I have felt generosity when a box of face masks was anonymously shipped to my address. In my community, instead of competing for marginal takeout profits, an extremely expensive, fine-dining Mexican restaurant stayed open to prepare free meals for first responders. On a national level, countless farms have begun handing out thousands of tons of food for anyone who needs it. Not only does this measure benefit the economy by both lowering supply to meet lower demand, it is also an incredible gesture and testament to human benevolence. If everyone tries to be the best possible human being they can be, I am confident this virus will pass in no time.

  7. China has been launched into the role of the world’s support system for fighting COVID-19. I agree with Howard Kunreuther in that China will be looked at differently in the future. When the outbreak first began in China, we have seen it miraculously build an emergency 645,000-square-foot hospital in ten days. We have seen it shut down China’s 9th largest city, Wuhan, and its neighboring areas. Most importantly, we have seen these drastic measures China took work successfully. Wuhan now has no new cases. The world should look at China’s containment of COVID-19 as a success story.

    Unfortunately, the United States’ relationship with China has become a rocky one in recent years, especially due to the trade war. The relationship, as Guillen has put it, is “confrontational”. I think that this does more harm than good because China has less incentive to help us. While other Asian countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea have contained COVID-19 without the help of China, I think the US will eventually need China’s help, especially since our infection rate curve is growing at a more exponential rate than Italy. The aforementioned other Asian countries have already had experience with another coronavirus — SARS. The United States, however, has had little experience with SARS. The trade war has pitted the U.S. and China against each other and China will likely not offer aid unless there are strings attached. Therefore, it would be highly beneficial to the U.S. if we had a friendly relationship with China so China could help us with little to no strings attached.

    Not only does China manufacture countless goods, but it is now starting to become the world’s supplier of face masks, therefore, increasing China’s GDP and solidifying its place as a world superpower. The two countries with the largest GDP are the United States and China, so I think it would benefit both countries and the world in general if there were friendly relations between the two. As Mauro Guillen put it, “the world depends on Chinese growth” and I think that the world also depends on U.S. growth. To achieve maximum world growth, the U.S. and China need to have a friendly relationship so one does not impede the growth of the other and, in turn, impede the growth of the world economy.

    1. I agree with you, Abigail. In face of the impending doom, the new coronavirus pandemic may lead to the eventual collapse of the economic structure, which has struck fear into the hearts of millions of people. We need to be sufficiently concerned in order to overcome what may become the United States’ second Great Depression. In my opinion, controlling a situation and dealing with it calmly is the number one priority during a pandemic. Accusing China for the COVID-19 outbreak is getting us nowhere. This new virus is a symbol that the Earth is sick, reminding us that we need to look at the rate of pollution, waste, and resource exploitation more often and consider our everyday choices more carefully. As stated in the article, there is no doubt that there will be a major shift in trade patterns and that people will look at China differently once the virus has passed. But all of the struggling and confusion is part of our learning experience — and it will eventually build up to a stronger, better economy.
      I have not had to personally experience the catastrophes that COVID-19 has brought upon the world. However, I am of Chinese descent, which means that I have heard many stories from relatives and family friends that have experienced the new coronavirus themselves. Relatives in China have had to go through drastic changes in their lifestyles in order to adapt to the newfound pandemic. Cities have been shut down, and most of mankind has been quarantined. They can no longer go to places they wish to go to, and many extracurricular activities have been abruptly interrupted. Many sports leagues have been temporarily placed on hold as well, much to the disappointment of sports fans. Relatives that own businesses themselves have had to shut them down temporarily, and now have no means of paying rent or purchasing resources necessary for everyday life. Supporting their families is much more difficult, and everyone is doing everything they can in their power to survive through this crisis.
      Unfortunately, some people still do not realize the severity of the situation. Many people in societies across the world still are not as worried about the coronavirus, because there have not been as many confirmed cases in their specified area. The harsh truth is that the outbreak of the coronavirus has turned into a worldwide pandemic in under three months and will affect us more and more as days pass. If this continues, history will repeat itself: the Great Depression would arise once again. The only ones that will survive this new pandemic are the people who are willing to work with others and develop new strategies to combat this new frightening foe.
      In spite of the current situation, although it does not seem like it, there may be a silver lining to this pandemic. It has not been a hindrance, but rather a learning experience. We have learned to be more conservative of natural resources and not to rashly waste them. The virus has also taught us that we have been too entrenched in the past, and that we should always be alert, despite the medical advancements we have made in the past decades. Tragedies like this have happened in the past, including the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Each time a national crisis has materialized, mankind has survived; we have worked together to overcome these near-death situations. More than twelve million Americans were sent into the military during World War II, and a similar number toiled in defense jobs as well. These war jobs took care of the 17 million unemployed Americans in 1939, and marked the end of the Great Depression. During the Great Recession, the U.S government passed the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or the TARP Act for short. The TARP Act is a program used to purchase toxic assets and equity from different important financial institutions to strengthen the United States in its time of crisis. With the help of the government and the citizens themselves, we were able to overcome the Great Recession.
      We need to treat COVID-19 with the same magnitude of danger as we did with the Great Depression and the Great Recession. It is currently on track of becoming one of the great disasters, and I fear that if we do not start cooperating and stop accusing each other, things may get out of hand. In past times, when there was a national crisis, we overcame that as one; if we repeat what was done in the past, we will succeed once again. Financial and economical problems were resolved as time passed, ultimately leading to a stronger and better economic system. If we follow past examples of what our ancestors did, we can strengthen the system once again.
      Major changes will undoubtedly proceed after this threat has been dispelled. The current structure of the trade system will be no more after the virus has passed; the people’s trust for China will no doubtedly vanish. The world itself will change as a whole as well. Newly gained confidence that citizens have accumulated over the span of a decade will be for naught, and the popularity of current distributors of products will surely differ. Trust in certain companies will collapse as well as a result of this disaster, as Howard Kunreuther said in the article. All we can do now is keep ourselves safe and stay indoors to contain the virus.
      Living life with a virus that has been spreading like a wildfire has been challenging, to say the least. I can feel my mental state slowly deteriorating as each day passes; no one is allowed outside, and staying inside everyday will eventually get to you. However, this new experience has brought something new into my life as well, and I have learned many new things about COVID-19 that I didn’t know before. I was able to learn how the most influential companies in the world were affected, and how they have adapted in order to survive as well. Entering this commenting competition has allowed me to read and learn more about COVID-19, which has been a very interesting experience. There isn’t a whole lot that we can do currently — the best we can do is wash our hands frequently and keep our hands to ourselves. I have faith that humanity can recover from this disaster.

    2. Abigail, I completely agree with your comment, in fact, it was also interesting that you mentioned how China’s economic growth would hinder the United States’ status as a major world power. This point you mentioned of China surpassing the US economically, was expressed in a thoughtful manner that I didn’t automatically process when I first explored this article. While China’s meticulous and assertive handling of Covid-19 was indeed a success story, the question of whether China is willing to offer aid to the United States is a different case. As you mentioned, our diplomatic relationship with China has not always been stable, however, it didn’t start with a trade war. Beyond the tariff squabbles and South-China Sea debates, the United States now faces a new invisible threat with China; this time in the form of a virus. Your comment, Abigail, really made me ponder as to how exactly the US could fall behind economically on the international podium. I feel as if some of the most influential decisions, especially for the United States, depend on the current administration’s actions and how they end up playing their cards. Analysts in the past have stated that, eventually, we would end up facing a global catastrophe unknown to mankind where our healthcare systems would fundamentally collapse. I agree that the world’s economic growth is heavily influenced by both China and the US, and I do believe a somewhat friendly relation with China will help world growth, but I also think that the US is in a position where our remaining cards need to be played correctly or else we will crash hard.

      Since most of the world is also experiencing the economic instability that comes from this pandemic, one of our only liable options, and in my opinion one of our smartest options, of possible foreign aid is turning to China. It’s known that China, now out of the woods for their first wave of the virus, has the medical information and supplies needed to potentially save thousands (if not millions) of people worldwide. China does have the ability to now help other nations, as we have seen with Italy and their construction of hospitals in Milan, sending masks, etc. It is now up to the American officials to decide whether or not they are willing to cooperate in order to receive the help that they will eventually need. Although, I’ve seen China’s willingness to cooperate with American officials slowly diminishing. With China holding many of the pharmaceuticals we need and buy, this economic war could easily transform into a cold war as many analysts are predicting. The 100 million dollars of aid delivered to China and other nations will be easily overlooked if US leaders keep bashing Chinese authority on past discussions that are now uncontrollable (such as withholding knowledge about infected persons). Looking at it from a political perspective, it is also unlikely China will actually want to engage in any peace discussions with the US after Trump and Pompeo’s racist/xenophobic remarks about the virus.

      With that being stated, I would ruefully have to disagree with the part where you stated the possibility of establishing a friendly relationship with China. At this point, after the billions of tariffs and the speeches made by Pence in the last few years, it is not likely, in my opinion, that China will suddenly become a good friendly partner of ours. However, the conditions we are under do not require us to establish a dramatic friendship with China. One of the few options I see right off the bat in order to help the US and world economy while also not being undermined is to somehow establish new trade rules, even if they are temporary. I feel as if we need to be willing to introduce the possibility to putting a halt to the trade war until this pandemic is solved. I agree that these two entities are both very powerful, however, there needs to be a bilateral agreement so that the trade war ends for both sides. If situations become dire to a point where the US would need foreign imported medical supplies and PPE, I would hope the administration’s cards in hand would be played correctly. If they were to fold, the entire idea of economic improvement would likely fold with it.

  8. From my personal experience, I learned that until we actually persevere through an event ,it is hard to understand the calibre of it. For example, the Covid-19 is causing a horrendous disaster and fear across the globe. In January, when the virus was still only active in China, I saw numerous jokes from the United States and Europe about the Coronavirus on social media. They believed that the virus would never reach the mainlands of their countries. People thought it was funny and kept on supplementing to the already existing joke. However, it was not until recently, where the virus had became a global threat. Places like Italy and Spain are in serious trouble while the United States is also suffering as well. People, moreover, students finally realize the seriousness of the virus as we are encouraged to stay indoors without much physical social interactions. When it was announced that my school would be cancelling all classes and start online sessions, students were going viral and were very thrilled that school was closing. However, we now feel pure boredom, hoping that this outbreak would come to a halt. I, myself feel very depressed for being quarantined without going to school. I even miss going to school as well, which is something I have rarely thought of. Finally those people who made jokes about the outbreak now suffer from it as well, which now they stop making jokes about it. Hearing from the news about a new global pandemic might not be enough to bring people together but a personal experience was valuable enough to help people come to realize of this horrible outbreak.

    1. Excellent reflections, Aiden. Something I really take from your comments is what can happen when we gain a new and different perspective. Certain countries that were making light of the situation are now living it, and they suddenly realize how a crisis like this can impact their lives. Not much to laugh at there. Also, you mention missing school. Sometimes it takes a departure from our normal routine and lifestyle just to see how much we truly appreciate it. Hang in there. So many of us are feeling the jolt of this “new normal.” Thanks for posting.

  9. COVID-19 is a relentless monster as it slowly tears apart the economy of nation after nation and takes the lives of thousands and thousands of innocent people. Bringing the “world’s second-largest economy to its knees”, this virus’s insatiable need for death and destruction has caused it to wreak havoc upon countries from Italy to the United States. However, this war is not just between man and nature, it is also a war between man and man.

    As an international student in China, I was hit by the first wave of COVID-19. Before we received an official order from the Chinese government to suspend all school activities, we tried to ignore the increasing number of students and teachers growing sick and tired. I saw this war between man and nature as this virus ate away at people in my community. The rapid escalation of the risk of contracting COVID-19, in turn, escalated people’s fear of the fatal virus. However, this fear has been incorrectly directed toward Chinese people, rather than the virus itself. This war between man and nature has now become a war between man and man as xenophobia directs the blame and fear towards Chinese people.

    As American citizens, my family and I were fortunate to evacuate back to the United States two months ago. After a grueling 13 hours on the plane wearing masks and gloves, we arrived in the US. However, instead of being greeted with words of comfort and gestures of sympathy, we were greeted with annoyance and fear. As the only group of people wearing masks in the airport, my family, the other passengers on the plane, and I were isolated from the people at the airport. I continued to experience this bias toward Chinese people as I heard whispers on the street and noticed subtle movements away from me. News stations, in addition, reported about Chinese people being verbally and physically abused. During this war against this monster of a virus, people should be coming together and supporting each other, rather than isolating a certain group. I hope that, together, we overcome the economic disasters and loss of life that COVID-19 has brought upon us. I hope that, together, we beat COVID-19 and grow not only as individuals but as whole nations.

    1. Claire, your comments are very poignant, and I appreciate hearing about your first-hand experience with xenophobia. This pandemic is teaching all of us so much about humanity and humility. Many past outbreaks have targeted certain countries or populations, making it easy for people to say, “that is happening to them, not me.” This one is less discriminating. I’m hopeful that the fact that countries around the world are suffering will help more people empathize, rather than point fingers. I know I am gaining new perspectives with each day that passes. Thank you for posting.

    2. Claire, you bring up a valuable point on how the world is treating this virus compared to how people treat those around them. Instead of fearing the virus, people still walk on the street and gather in groups. They direct their fear toward the Chinese. Perhaps because I live in an environment surrounded by a diverse population with people of different races, few people will discriminate against others due to COVID-19. However, as an individual of Chinese descent who has spent years in China, the news about prejudice around the world has hurt me. I have read news that ranged from putting blame on China to bringing up their political problems. Phrases like “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus” have brought on international laughter. Just like this pandemic, many countries’ inherent prejudice against China include that China is an opaque, backward and authoritarian country. This is like an ideological stamp: no matter how we warn of the crisis and call for a global anti-pandemic response, countries still ignore this and believe that free and democratic citizens can resist the attack of the epidemic.
      As a student in New York, COVID-19 has affected me greatly over the course of these few months. It feels very uncomfortable to stay home 24/7 with my parents and not be able to talk with my friends. Remote learning for several months will cause us to lose valuable learning experiences. In these months of online classes, I have developed a habit of self-discipline. While many tests are postponed and canceled, I still take this time at home to improve myself, whether through education or exploration of other interestsWith the mobility of human society today, as long as there is an outbreak in one country or region, there is a risk of infection in other parts of the world. It is difficult to completely eliminate the flow of people around the world, and the cost is extremely high. New waves of COVID-19 have spread around the rest of the world like a hurricane. Millions of medical workers have given up their time and risked their lives, dedicated to fighting the virus and bringing back the global economy. “Every era has its heroes” is the phrase we should give to medical staff. We should respect the medical staff who were willing to give up their safety to bring the world back healthier. Every day in my neighborhood, at 7pm, we would clap and cheer as loud as we could for the medical staff in our neighborhood who had just returned from work.
      After the cases of COVID-19 in China began to fall, industries started to recover and supply chains around the world started to develop. Growing the production of face masks from only 20 million to 300 million daily, China has come to support other nations around the world to prevent and stop this virus. By working together, we will win this conflict of man versus nature. By staying home and quarantining ourselves, we will be able to help the world from stopping this virus from going around. This pandemic prevention war involving seven billion people is an unprecedented feat that all of us are fighting.

  10. Economic impacts from COVID-19 vary greatly and strongly around the world. As I am writing this, my hometown in NYC has gone into a catastrophe after becoming the epicenter of the pandemic. I want to address this on behalf of my British Literature teacher, Ms. Nguyen, who sadly passed away because of this virus. As our city in the middle of this pandemic gets weaker every day, our everyday basic needs such as groceries grow stronger in demand. As of the past few weeks, my family and I have noticed that vegetable costs have gone up substantially, while meat costs have gone up to an all-time high. And since due to this pandemic, both my parents have had to file for unemployment, with the impact of this just starting to unfold, I am unsure of how NYC is going to come back from this.
    This is truly breaking my heart, especially because people have become more reckless as this pandemic has unfolded. This was seen in my mother’s workplace where she is a general manager for a clothing business, as she starts dealing with companies in the U.S shutting down for bankruptcy. She has had to redirect orders for everything that the company orders, with most of the buyers canceling their orders at the last second. Her company is now on the fringe of extinction as they try to fight with others to keep their company running. Her company has faced many challenges before, but this one has struck her the most. The previous years of the stock market crash and the recent heavy tariffs of clothing implemented by Trump hurt their business, but they recovered from it. But from this newly faced challenge of a pandemic, how long this stretch will last would define their ability to survive.
    On my dad’s side, he works as a mechanical engineer at a work firm, and because he is always near contact with a person, we always worry about him when he is needed for a call. And because of this worry, my dad has lost a lot of business as he declines minor calls such as a flat tire or an oil change in precaution of our family. Due to these mishaps on our family’s income, this has basically left us with no way to pay mortgages and groceries, as tenants refuse to pay up their monthly payments and banks shorten our extension on the mortgage. This has left us with a dead-end where my mother had to borrow money from my grandmother. We are stuck evaluating our survival from the back as banks and unemployment creep upon us, while facing reality in the front where we have to debate how we spend our money on necessities including food.
    Now I want to also address my English teacher, who was practically at the front lines of the battle. Because she teaches many advanced classes in our specialized high school, she always overburdened herself on a daily basis. But because of this pandemic, her work had to turn for the worst. Although she thought she had a basic cold, she kept posting online work for us to keep us up, neglecting her health, but when the day struck and was informed to us that she had sadly passed away due to COVID-19, it was detrimental as she had practically put her life on the line just to teach English for us. This displays the drastic measures we all take to keep ourselves up even though the impact of the coronavirus struck us hard. Although this virus carries a burden on all of us, we New Yorkers keep going on, as we have nowhere to turn and stop. Even as our country turns for the worse, we will continue to keep fighting.

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