The United States’ Normal Will Be Extremely Different to Pre-COVID-19 Normal After Reopening

Patrick Kissel, Reporter

Over the past two weeks, the United States has seen a large push from some areas to begin reopening the country with the intention of returning back to normal as quickly as possible.

This push to reopen the country when the peak of the virus has not even been reached is reckless, irresponsible and has the potential to be extremely deadly. Despite the obvious fact that pushing to reopen the country now is too soon, it’s also important to acknowledge that there will not be a return to a pre-COVID-19 normal, but a new normal.

In the United States, unemployment claims have skyrocketed with the numbers of first time unemployment claims every week for the past five weeks being more than one million. To put that number in perspective, unemployment claims in the United States had previously never gone above one million, and the recent weekly claims are more than five times the worst weeks of the 2008 market crash.

In addition to unemployment, the cost of a barrel of crude oil went negative for the first time in American history as the demand for oil plummets with most cars off the road. Overall stock prices have shed years of gain, eliminating savings, retirement funds and catapulting the economy into recession. Small and large businesses are already closing, including many restaurants and local businesses that will most likely not come back once the pandemic is over.

Basically, there will be a new, depression-like normal once the country reopens. The world will not return to a normal as though nothing happened over the past few months, but instead the world will emerge into an economy where unemployment is far greater, likely even greater than the 2008 recession and potentially at levels equal to, or greater than the Great Depression.

While yes, there will likely be fewer at-work meetings, people will shake hands less, wash hands more and take greater account of personal space and health, there are far greater economic changes that are already occurring and will continue to occur as the country slips farther and farther into the recession, and this fact is going largely ignored. When discussing plans to reopen the economy, there needs to be a discussion about how to immediately support everyone afterwards who are out of work, because if the country sits on the issue for even a few months, the results could be catastrophic.