The COVID-19 pandemic has made a significant impact on all of our lives. You may know someone who contracted the virus or your business may have closed due to governments’ preventative efforts to stop the virus from continuing to spread. Either way, the world has seen a drastic change from the life we knew before COVID-19 emerged.
In recent weeks, federal, state, and local governments have initiated various processes and protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Closing all non-essential businesses, enacting a “stay home” order to encourage any non-essential workers to remain at their homes until the order is lifted, only leaving for necessary reasons like food shopping or medical visits. Thus initiating use of a term that we’re all very familiar with now, social distancing.
Social distancing has become a new way of life for many Americans. The different laws put in place to “flatten the curve” are set with the intention of keeping civilians separated as much as possible until the peak number of COVID-19 cases start to decrease. It’s become a national movement that’s shedding light on significant issues of social inequality in our country.
While some American’s hold jobs where remote work and social distancing are possible, many lower-income families lack disposable income or flexible work schedules that would allow for it. Leading them to be much less protected from contracting the virus; especially if they fall under the category of an “essential worker.” Many of these families also have children who are now home from school until further notice—resulting in additional problems for employees that don’t have paid leave or sick time to take to care for their children and little to no option of other childcare. For those that can stay home and care for their children as a result of a lay-off or business closure, there is an evident risk of financial and housing security.
Social inequality issues due to COVID-19 have also hit the higher education sector. With the closing of colleges and universities, students have been left to continue their education in a virtual space. For some students, this means learning from the comfort of their homes, while for others, it’s losing a place of security. All students have different home environments, and many students coming from low-income families rely on college for healthcare, housing, and food. With closures and full evacuations, many of these students are left to their own devices.
Although the movement of social distancing to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 is set in place to combat the novel virus, it’s brought considerable attention to issues of inequality and social justice within our nation.