Wharton Insights on the Impact and Implications of Coronavirus

by Diana Drake

As the world grapples with the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, Wharton has found a way to use its expertise and vision to examine the real-time challenges facing companies, financial markets and political systems. On March 25, the school will launch “Epidemics, Natural Disasters, and Geopolitics: Managing Global Business and Financial Uncertainty,” a six-week online course available to all Penn degree-seeking students.

During a recent appearance on CNBC News, Mauro Guillen, a Wharton management professor who is spearheading the development of the course, as well as teaching parts of it, said, “I am inviting guest lecturers, the best experts we have in the school, [to talk about] the psychology of the crisis, the pressures on the health care system, and how companies should be responding…Every crisis is different, but there are still some solid, underlying management principles that can be distilled. That’s what we want to convey to our students, and to companies and policy-makers.”

Guillen has said that the Wharton faculty, including Zeke Emanuel, Wharton dean Geoff Garrett, Sigal Barsade, Katy Milkman, Jeffrey Siegel and more, is proud to launch the course because it draws from the current geopolitical climate and will “offer students insights into this crisis and all types of high-risk events.” With this in mind, Knowledge@Wharton High School spoke with Guillen to learn a few key insights about the crisis that next week’s course will explore:

A look at supply and demand. “This crisis is very different from 9-11, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or the 2011 earthquake in Japan, and also from the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 [see related links for more information on all of these crises],” notes Guillen. “We have simultaneously a supply shock and a demand shock. We have a demand shock because consumers are staying at home and not spending, or they are postponing big purchases. We have a supply shock because a lot of companies — especially beginning in China, but now in other parts of the world — sent their workers home so they couldn’t produce. The global economy works on a just-in-time basis, so if one company shuts down, that means that several other companies cannot operate because they need something that the other company is doing. This is happening on a planetary scale. So, one company that shuts down in China has implications for companies in many other parts of the world.”

How should the government help the economy? “We need to consider which government policies work best,” says Guillen. “The U.S. is a consumer-driven economy, and 65% of our Gross Domestic Product or GDP is consumption. Should the government spend more or cut taxes? The problem with cutting taxes is that the positive impact is felt over a series of months, rather than immediately. If the government spends money right away and gives people $1,000 or $2,000, which is something that is being discussed between Congress, the White House and the Treasury Department, then you can have that money right away in people’s pockets and that way the economy will not panic.”

The difference between uncertainty and risk. “Decision makers, like companies and investors, don’t like uncertainty because they don’t know what to do,” notes Guillen. “It’s important here to differentiate between uncertainty and risk. Risk is when you can calculate the probability of a certain outcome in the future. You can quantify what the risk is. However, uncertainty is when you cannot quantify. This is what is causing so much trouble right now in the sense that investors and decision-makers at companies don’t know enough. They’re trying to apprise the risk, but they’re having a lot of trouble with that.”

Learning from the crisis. “We need to evaluate ways to avoid a similar occurrence in the future,” says Guillen. “On the health care front, we need to have more testing kits, respirators and other types of health care equipment. We have to have more transparency and better information so that the world learns very quickly about an outbreak in a particular location and everybody acts accordingly. Companies need to diversify their sources of supply so they don’t just rely on one country or one supplier. People like you and me and workers need to be prepared for this in the same way we are prepared for a hurricane. We need to invest more in preparedness.”

Stay tuned for our list of crisis-inspired business and economics terms that everyone should know, soon to be published here in the Knowledge@Wharton High School business journal.

Related Links

Conversation Starters

As the design of this new Wharton course suggests, crisis can be a time of opportunity and learning. Consider ways that you are finding opportunity amid today’s changes and uncertainties. Log in and share your ideas in the comment section of this article. Feel free to also share how others are finding opportunity.

Mauro Guillen points out a few ways we need to strengthen our business and health care systems to be better prepared for this kind of crisis in the future. Using the related links, as well as other insights you’ve read about, what else are we learning from this crisis that will help us respond?

What is the difference between uncertainty and risk? Why must decision-makers understand that difference if they are going to make good and lasting choices? Identify both uncertainties and risks in your own life and consider how they might affect the decisions you make for the future.

15 comments on “Wharton Insights on the Impact and Implications of Coronavirus

  1. Through this time of struggle, others are coming together to reflect on life and change their ways, jobs are planning and strategizing ways to improve and others are also doing what they can to catch up. This crisis is helping humans come together and realize certain actions we take, by doing this we are improving as humans. Uncertainty is not being completely sure about something or someone whereas risk is taking the chance to do something no matter the consequence. they must understand these decisions to be sure their choices are in their hands and it consequences on them. Uncertainties in my life as of now is how my life will end up and a risk factor in my life as of now will also be certain actions I take that will hinder me or cause me to achieve something.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Emmanuel! I completely agree that “this crisis is helping humans come together and realize certain actions we take.” We all have time to reflect on where we’ve come from, where we are and where we want to go. “Improving as humans” could be the opportunity amid so much change, uncertainty and sadness.

  2. It does seem like the uncertainty of this situation has caused a lot of chaos all over the world. I’ve been following the news for the past few weeks, and I’ve noticed that many different qualified public health or government officials have all had opposing viewpoints. For example, I remember that one person pointed out that masks were useless in preventing the spread of the virus. Then a week later, others started to say that masks were helpful and that people should wear them outdoors. These contradictory statements made it difficult for me to understand how to prepare against the coronavirus, and I’m sure, has made it difficult for others as well. At the beginning of the outbreak, I think uncertainty led people to make poorly-informed decisions since the information given was not well calculated, and the market was very volatile. People didn’t actually know if the risk of the virus was high or low, so I think many just randomly picked a camp and stuck with it. Some people hoarded masks, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper, while others just continued to go about their lives.

    Furthermore, I completely agree with Mauro Gullien that the US needs to diversify sources of supply. Not only that, though, but I believe the US needs to be more self-sustainable. Even if we choose to diversify imports and get them from different countries, this action might prove unhelpful in another global pandemic like Covid-19. Regardless if we get our PPE from China, or from several other countries, the fact is that the pandemic will cause all supplier countries to stop exporting PPE and instead, use it for their own citizens first. Currently, demand for masks has gone up because so many countries are competing against each other to get much-needed supplies. It has been very difficult for the US to get the PPE, and state governors are paying almost 10 times per mask as they would have before the virus. In the future, I believe that the US needs to diversify its industries as a buffer for such a future scenario, whether it’s a pandemic, recession, or natural disaster. That way, in the case of another world-wide catastrophe, Americans will be able to have prioritized access to necessary items.

    • Thanks for sharing Lucy! I agree with you that “uncertainty of the situation has caused a lot of chaos all over the world”; however, I disagree with your reasoning behind the cause of this chaos. While there are a lot of “contradictory statements” out there regarding how to act amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I do not believe this is the reason for the chaos. Rather, I see the public uncertainty of the COVID-19 timeline as the proprietor. People have become uncertain because the most knowledgable and well-qualified medical professionals that they look to in these trying times are themselves unsure of how COVID-19 will play out. They are unable to assure themselves, let alone the public, that everything will be okay, leading to widespread uncertainty. This uncertainty will cause part of the public to panic buy, while the other part will, as you said, “continue to go about their lives”. However, I believe this phenomenon is far more nuanced than that. People will only act according to their risk preference in the short-run: the risk-averse individuals will panic buy, while the risk-neutral and risk-taking individuals will not. Over time, as risk-averse individuals continue to panic buy, they effectively skyrocket the demand for essential goods, which, in addition to the “supply shocks” that Guillen mentioned, creates a huge shortage. Risk-neutral individuals will begin to see a social trend — risk-averse individuals flocking to stores to panic buy — effectively instilling a sense of urgency and influencing them to do the same. In the long-run, this social trend will encompass all risk-averse and risk-neutral individuals, depleting the supply of essential goods to the point where risk-taking individuals are forced to panic buy. The entire population, regardless of their risk-preference, will now panic buy, leading to the “chaos” that you mentioned.

      While I agree with your main point that the U.S. needs to have enough masks for all Americans in case of another event like COVID-19, I do not agree that the U.S. becoming “more self-sustainable” for masks is the solution. The cost of producing our own masks in the U.S. is far more expensive than the cost of importing masks. Compared to “supplier countries”, the U.S. simply does not have competitive manpower, number of factories, or cheap resources. Thus, becoming “self-sustainable” in masks is illogical and unnecessary because it would lead to an inefficient allocation of valuable resources. Instead, I propose that the U.S. should invest in more masks from diverse sources to create a readily available surplus for Americans when another global pandemic hits. By using global data and research from COVID-19, we can project the additional number of masks needed to create this surplus. While the severity of the next pandemic is unknown, a surplus of masks will better equip us to battle the next global pandemic, aligning with Guillen’s recommendation to “invest more in preparedness”.

      This is the optimal plan of attack. The U.S. will have readily mobilizable masks without the unnecessary spending associated with becoming “self-sustainable”. This ultimately ensures that the U.S. will be prepared for the next pandemic, its resources will be maximized, and Americans will be given “prioritized access” to masks.

    • Hi Lucy, I think your comment is very insightful. As someone who lives in New York City, the current epicenter of COVID-19, I too have noticed these chaotic and contradicting messages. With a severe shortage of personal protective equipments, it is the government’s duty to prioritize allocating resources to health care professionals. However, in effort to do so, some government officials deceptively preached the ineffectiveness of masks, only to refute these claims weeks later. Instead of spreading these falsehoods, they should have informed citizens of the importance of masks while prioritizing the needs of health care workers, and trust that their citizens will act responsibly. Governments could have recommended citizens to use home-made alternatives such as cotton masks or scarfs. All I know is that if New Yorkers were told to wear masks in public spaces earlier, we would be in a very different situation now.

      As the world is being forced into lockdown, people can no longer “just go about their lives.” Even though lockdowns are effectively slowing the COVID-19, they are not the long-term solution. In fact, the economic damage from a prolonged lockdown could potentially outweigh the damage caused by the virus itself. While some people may be able to work from home, others are losing their jobs, causing the global economy to take a nosedive. Government handouts can only last so long. People need to go back to work. Therefore, we must gradually and cautiously lift lockdowns. Professor Alexander Kekulé, a leading german epidemiologist, recently stated that instead of social distancing, we must practice smart distancing. This means gradually allowing people back to work with precautions such as wearing masks in crowded areas and maintaining safe distances in essential stores. In addition, we must pay special attention to protecting the most vulnerable, specifically our senior citizens and those with pre-existing conditions.

      This, however, is still not enough. Before we look at how to prevent future outbreaks, the world must band together to resolve the current medical and economic crises. This means that countries and politicians must have full transparency and take responsibility instead of blaming each other. In particular, as rich nations gradually recover from the pandemic, they must help less developed countries weather the storm. This starts with direct humanitarian aid such as food and medicine, and should be followed by debt relief for poor countries in order to stimulate sustainable economic recovery. Lending countries, including China, the United States, and other developed nations, should work with multinational organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to initiate this process. With every member of the global community lending a helping hand, we can defeat this pandemic.

  3. It appears that ultimately COVID-19 could be the ‘2008 crash of our generation’, with the fallout potentially being far worse: the financial crisis in 2008 was largely a result of a stop to bank lending, as opposed to the simultaneous decreases in both supply and demand mentioned by the article- every human, both a consumer and worker, has been significantly less capable of doing either. In the last week of February, Walmart saw a 16.5% decrease in foot traffic compared to the week before. Meanwhile, Ford, GM, and Chrysler have shut down production in the USA, with over 100,000 people potentially losing jobs, for the moment inactive with less pay. The jobs of those in the industrial sector as a whole are therefore at risk.

    Analysts around the world are predicting massive economic contractions, with Goldman Sachs suggesting a 24% contraction in US GDP from April to June 2020 (GDP fell by 4.2% after the crisis of 2008). Crucially, given the cheap lending conditions of the last 10 years, many firms are extremely overleveraged, especially SMEs which have little cash reserves but play a huge role in the economy. Rolling over this debt is especially hard when banks are unwilling to lend given the low chances of companies being able to escape bankruptcy when consumption dries up. There is more than $10 trillion of American corporate debt, 47% of the overall economy- a bubble that may burst with terrible consequences in the future, compromising any recovery.

    Fortunately, central banks are at the moment doing as much as they can to cushion the blow, although the eventual results are still yet to be obvious, with the Bank of England offering £100 billion in cheap loans to companies and the Fed providing significant backing to repo markets and commercial paper markets. Interest rates have approached 0, and only 4 days ago Donald Trump signed a historic $2 trillion stimulus bill- clearly, we now have far more resources to deal with the pandemic than past recessions.

    The coronavirus has resulted in several different waves of panic at every level of society, from the markets in which we buy food to the markets in which billions of dollars are traded on a daily basis. To avoid an economic calamity will require a vast amount of collective effort.

    • While I agree that the federal government and central banks have a role to play in softening the impact of the pandemic, it is important to understand that the impending recession will not have been the result of a large scale structural economic problem as the 2008 financial crisis was. The 2008 crisis was a result of internal market distortions while the situation we find ourselves in today can be attributed to outside forces. Considering this, the Fed and Federal Government need to be cautionary in terms of how they approach their relief efforts. It is vastly important that neither of these entities get carried away and dig a financial hole for themselves that will hurt the nation in the long run. The Fed’s new policy of “unlimited” Quantitative easing is a drastic measure to ensure maximum liquidity. The long term structural impact of the Fed’s emergency measures are unknown. Our low inflation environment is a good sign that the economy is in no real danger of overheating, but at this moment the Fed seems to have exhausted all of its resources— traditional and non traditional— making the prospect of a post-pandemic low growth environment very concerning.

      • I wanted to add to what Robert V. says. At least in Spain the pandemic is having a huge impact on our economy. The country has pretty much stopped all economic activity. Many small, medium and even large business of all sectors are struggling. The government is trying to help with what is called ERTE (they pay a part of the employees’ wages). This money comes from the public money which also sustains our healthcare systems (which are saturated at the moment). If I’m not wrong with the numbers, our Government is going to use about 200 million euros (20% of our GDP) trying to reduce as much as possible the economic impact the pandemic is causing. Honestly, I’m not really sure what impact this will have in the economic future of the country as a whole, but I can assure you it’s going to have an important effect.

        So, as I want to conclude, the 2008 crisis was a “structural economic problem”, but we must not undermine the effects the pandemic can have in our economic activity and well-being of our population.

    • Thanks for sharing Maxwell! After reading your insightful comment, I was enlightened to your opinion on the current state of the economy. You included many major statistics, crucial in highlighting the current economic damage and recovery efforts underway. I want to expand on your research to consider how these factors will affect America as a whole.

      The US unemployment rate is nearing 18% as jobless claims have topped 22 million since the start of the shutdown. Vast numbers of small businesses will close indefinitely. As Maxwell hinted on, a majority of SMEs will not survive on their limited cash reserves. This simultaneous decrease in both supply and demand is ravaging the economy. According to the American Community Survey by the U.S. Census in 2018, the median rent was $1,023. A $1,200 one-time stimulus check would barely cover housing, which is why many renters are unable to make their April payments. On top of that, millions of stimulus checks are not arriving to desperate Americans due to glitches. With the average American deciding between paying rent for the month or buying groceries, why is the stock market gaining?

      Last week, the DJIA saw its biggest one day gain in 80 years. The S&P 500 index has increased 25% since its bottom on March 23rd and is only down 14% on the year. Top Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley strategists have revised their future outlook on markets to bullish. An incredible juxtaposition exists between the devastated economy and mediocre stock market losses.

      Stock prices are not based on present conditions, but rather what the world will look like in the future. In the great recession of 2008, stock prices began recovery in March 2009. The economy did not start expanding again until July, and the unemployment rate did not peak until October. Current investors believe the recent interventions from Washington will result in long-term profitability for blue-chip corporations. With the Fed enacting every possible policy to help businesses, the future looks ripe for the growth of investment. Though, what about the average American?

      We are experiencing growth in the gap between social classes. A report by The New York Times found that after old age and preexisting health conditions, the third-highest indicator for risk of death from COVID-19 is “low socioeconomic status.” With 22 million Americans now unemployed, the upper class is on the advantageous side of this widening gap. Celebrities such as Heidi Klum, Rudy Gobert, and Mitt Romney were tested immediately for the virus, in a time where testing kits are in “critically low” supply. Those who need testing most, including health care professionals, the elderly, and the critically ill, do not have access to these kits.

      With millions fearing a second deadly wave of COVID-19, depletion of medical supplies, a plummeting economy, and not having a reliable income for months, what is next for America, and how will we prevail?

    • Hey Maxwell! I had a blast reading your well thought out comment!

      Indeed, as you have illustrated the economy has and will continue to slump even further. The IMF has already declared that we are currently in a recession.In your comment you touched on the debt bubble and how it might pop. However I wouldn’t worry about this. Since America was founded she has never defaulted on its debt payments and has built an incredible reputation, which has in turn made America an incredibly safe place to invest, with China and Japan buying large amounts of US bonds. America is one of the most stable countries in the world, and especially in an uncertain time like this many people will flock to buy up US debt. Even so the deficit run this year is still less than previous years, the Congressional Budget Office projected a $1.1 trillion deficit this fiscal year, or 4.9 percent of G.D.P. which is still much lower than the 2009 high of 9.8 percent. However if we were to limit government spending it will only make the situation worse by prolonging the suffering of millions of Americans. There has already been 22 million Americans who have filed for unemployment, thus, America should prioritize the citizens who are suffering right now rather than withholding funds which may make the debt situation worse by increasing the debt to GDP ratio. However the government is still in a tricky situation. During a public health crisis, protecting public health and saving the economy are often at odds with one another, every money spent bailing out a company is less money spent on hospital equipment. Thus, I agree with you that to avoid economic catastrophe it will require everyone to help. Many individuals and companies have chipped in to help. Jeff Bezos has donated $100 million to food banks, and has mobilized Amazon to create test kits for its employees to ensure that the virus won’t be transmitted through amazon delivery. However, corporate greed has still found a way to hurt the health effort. A group of people were able to 3d print valves, which are vital to fighting Covid-19, and reduced the cost from $11,000 to just $1, but the original manufacturer has threatened to sue, despite this innovation potentially being able to save thousands of lives. I firmly believe that during a time where millions of lives are at risk, companies should give up some of its profit if it means saving lives. Unless everyone is able to come together, put aside the hate, and create a unified collective effort, both the health and economic situation will continue to get worse.

  4. Current market uncertainty has incited widespread chaos in global financial markets. Firms can hedge against risk through a plethora of derivatives, swaps, futures and many other financial instruments. Yet investors can’t hedge against COVID-19. A vaccine could be formulated tomorrow or next year or we may have to wait for the disease to simply run its course. Unlike risk, you can’t hedge against uncertainty because you can’t hedge against incalculable probabilities. Anyone taking part in global financial markets recently has been subject to massive selling pressure. Panic selling due to the virus has led to irrational price drops which bring about margin calls which lead to more panic selling and the cycle repeats over and over again. With normal market shocks institutional investors can temper their losses because they price in the potential risk to their positions via their hedges, which begin to yield income as their main position loses value. Yet this aforementioned market shock has been so irrational that firms and markets haven’t priced it into their positions.

    Prior to the current financial panic, markets had been at all-time highs with the Dow bordering on 30,000 and the majority of international indices at similar highs. Sure, talks of a recession had been swirling since the start of 2020, but were it not for this current pandemic the Dow likely would have broken 30,000 and would be reaching new highs. The underlying investor sentiment is one of “buy, buy, buy.” Investors want to buy, and at the whiff of good news global markets will be on the next train to the top. Consumers have no underlying reason to bring about a recession and the next recession will likely be caused by a shift in consumer spending. As soon as the current pandemic has run its course consumers will spend much more than normal. After all, after being cooped up at home for months consumers want to go on vacations, go shopping, and overall spend money.

    Additionally, federal governments around the world are undertaking major stimulus programs with the USA notably spending $2 Trillion to offset the negative financial impacts of COVID-19. Nevertheless, such spending will likely do little to alleviate our current economic woes. If people can’t physically go outside and spend money we will see little GDP growth. In fact, as Marco Gullen stated, the global economy is going through both a supply and demand shock. A simple macroeconomic analysis shows us that these two shocks in tandem bring about a decrease in quantity produced by the broad economy. It is highly likely that this pandemic will bring about a rise in so-called deglobalization as firms are now seeing how an adverse effect in their supply chain across the globe can drastically impede their operations.

    COVID-19 has caused a large amount of panic selling but there is no underlying cause for a recession. While firms, in the long run, may reduce their foreign reliance, consumers will likely spend money and bring back a resurgence in domestic GDP.

    • Hi Ishan – I found your observations on the unpredictable nature of this pandemic and the effect that it is currently having on the stock market to be very interesting. As you mentioned, the volatility of the stock market has been fascinating to see after the all time high of markets just before the pandemic started. You mentioned that GDP growth is likely to increase again after the risk passes and social distancing measures are lifted, however I question to what extent and at what time period we will begin to start seeing these ‘resurgences,’ as you pointed out.

      Firstly, the way in which the pandemic will change social interaction methods will be interesting to see. There have been talks of whether the simple handshake is even necessary and can be removed even after this pandemic passes. Furthermore, I think there will be a large portion of the population still wary of stepping out and resuming their old lives in full flow immediately after isolation measures are lifted. As we are currently witnessing in China and Hong Kong, the issue they are facing right now is of a potential second round of the virus through foreign travellers and lockdowns being lifted too early. I am interested to see how other governments, who have the gift of learning from what works for the Chinese government and what doesn’t, respond to claims of a potential damaging second round. Especially in the UK, the government faced backlash as it acted very slowly with the objective of attaining a ‘herd mentality.’ What are your thoughts on how the logistics and potential wariness of social interactions will play on our ability to consume as much as we used to?

      Secondly, one aspect which hasn’t been deeply mentioned in this article is that of the fiscal deficit. The US has had a budget deficit for many years now however the significance of it is bound to increase after this pandemic and the effect it will have and is having on the economy. Recently the IMF released a report highlighting the potential increase in budget deficit and projected that the US fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP will rise from 5.8% to 15.4%. Furthermore, they are also projecting that US debt as a percentage of GDP will be 132% – debt that the US holds will be significantly larger than GDP of the US. It is understandable that the government has to spend excessively in this time in order to help smaller businesses and industries. However, it is the fiscal deficit of previous years which may have been overlooked in some cases that we should be really paying attention to. Keynesian economics was based on the principle that government spending was required during the bad times – right now. It seems as though recent governments have taken this theory to the next level through not keeping a balanced budget even during the relatively good times.

      I am interested in seeing the future of interest rates, especially in the few years directly after the virus passes (we still don’t know when – a problem for investors as you had mentioned). Usually an unbalanced budget means the government will either print more money, and therefore keep interest rates higher – opposite of what is happening right now as consumption is encouraged to keep businesses afloat – or issue bonds. How will the US or even some developing countries combat this budget deficit?

      You concluded that consumers are likely to spend more money after this crisis however with the potential of higher interest rates what are your thoughts on this?

  5. In this time of dismay, it is easy to play the victim card. High school students are complaining about their prom being canceled or not being able to see their friends. Some even go against the state mandate to stay at home in hopes of attaining some sort of self-perceived “clout,” holding no regard for the detrimental implications that such actions could pose. This deeply saddens me, to witness my very own peers not abstain from being a major cause of the exponential increase in cases country-wide instead of using our youth as an asset. Young adults hold the most power during this crisis and we need to begin leveraging that to help save those who have set the groundwork for the privileged lives we live today. Whether that be as simple as staying inside and washing your hands, or employing our business-oriented minds to create solutions for local issues you see in your community, now is the time for us young adults to help, not hurt. I offer this as inspiration, in the greater Dallas area two teens spent their spring break creating a website to provide information on the availability of basic needs at local stores, already helping over 200,000 users save time and helping their local community beat the curve.

    In my experience, the clearing of the waters in Venice, Italy have been my source of inspiration. Travel is one of my passions, upon witnessing the polluted waters of Venice, Italy back in 2015 I was crushed. Venice was not nearly as beautiful as it had looked like in the pictures. However, recent news has given me hope. In just a few weeks of so-called “quarantine,” the waters of Venice have cleared, reintroducing many new species of wildlife to the scenes, a sight to see. This has inspired me to begin researching the possible benefits of converting to an all-electric vehicular mode of transportation. Clear skies, water, and communities could be just decades away and this motivates me to keep busy over this grueling time and look towards a better tomorrow.

    What keeps you motivated? Comment below 🙂

    • Hi Rikhav, thanks for sharing! I, too, am appalled by the fact that many of our peers choose to disregard the consequences of their actions for the sake of attracting attention. Though the fact that COVID-19 poses a smaller threat to younger individuals is widespread, many neglect to consider the fact that they may spread the virus to those who are vulnerable. For instance, mere weeks ago, thousands of students congregated on the beaches of Florida and Texas. Now, many of them are suspected of carrying COVID-19 across the nation. As young individuals tend to voice their opinions and offer a new perspective to issues, it is extremely dismaying for me to see many of these individuals demonstrating ignorance towards others in our society.

      My inspiration, however, comes from the fact that many of my peers are assisting those in need during this time of uncertainty. In the San Francisco Bay Area, where I currently reside, many students rely on their schools to provide food. While many schools continue to provide food services, these services remain limited in number and many students do not know of them. Recently, a group of high school students has created a spreadsheet for fellow students to contribute by listing the names and addresses of local schools which provide food services. Taking inspiration from these projects, I have also begun collecting donations to aid individuals who have lost their sources of income due to the pandemic.

      Though we currently live in uncertainty, it is also an opportunity for young individuals, like us, to apply our innovative mindsets towards this issue. We should all think of this as our chance to contribute to the larger notion of benefiting society.

  6. Obstacle? Or Opportunity? The two words have totally different definitions: one hinders and the other fosters growth. Yet, I’m arguing that only using both words can describe the complete pandemic experience.

    In January of 2020, businesses started to shut down, students were sent home, and everyone began to panic about the intangible monster that was swallowing our lives away. The World Monetary Foundation reported a 3.9% of median global GDP from 2019 to 2020, making it the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Every day, the news clips are filled with torn-apart families, overwhelmed hospitals, and hopelessness that only gets stronger over time. I remember sitting in front of the window in my bedroom, staring blankly into the street, wondering when and how the pandemic was going to end.

    Fast forward to June of 2022, six months after the two-year anniversary of the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The world is still astounded by the devastating consequences that the virus has left behind, but looking back, the past 30 months are full of opportunities and growth. Whether it is working from home, studying in a virtual classroom, or ordering fresh produce online, the expansion of technology is fueled by quarantine restrictions. Even though you were locked in your room for days, weeks, or even months, would you say Zoom and the advancement of other digital tools didn’t make your life easier? Even though you missed the productive office spaces, would you complain about the extra time you were able to spend with your dear family? Even though the pandemic was filled with uncertainty, would you say there wasn’t any way out?

    Thankfully, our society never fails to acknowledge hope in a world that seems to fall apart. As Guillen said, the Covid-19 pandemic certainly wasn’t the first crisis in humankind’s history. The reason that we’re here today is due to the collective perseverance and sense of hope that carried our ancestors through the disasters of their time. While properties, economies, and even humans can be destroyed, hope can survive. There is nothing that can defeat what’s inside our minds. The greatest lesson that we took away from the pandemic isn’t the cure or any economic solution; it is rather the cooperative effort of the global community and more importantly, hope.

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