Coronavirus will change America forever. Past crises offer hints of what’s to come. – Business Insider – Business Insider

Posted By on April 26, 2020

The legacy of the coronavirus pandemic, if written today, would be the unspeakable tragedy of hundreds of thousands of dead worldwide, major cities under lockdown, millions suddenly out of work, the largest economic stimulus package in US history, and the heroic sacrifices of workers who kept hospitals and supply lines running.

And it would be impossible to tell this story without discussing the ways in which President Donald Trump left the US utterly unprepared. As the novel coronavirus spread across China and into other countries, Trump ignored myriad warnings of an impending public-health and economic catastrophe. He spent weeks downplaying the threat, assuring Americans he had everything under control even as his administration struggled to develop effective tests needed to diagnose and treat the infected.

The US is now the epicenter of the pandemic. There will be more to the story than the sheer number of people killed by the virus, the economic catastrophe it induced, and Trump's bungled handling of the pandemic.

All historic crises have byproducts that ripple through time. Some are predictable; some are unexpected. Celebrations surrounding the end of World War I exacerbated the Spanish flu pandemic in the US. World War II would lead to the mass production of penicillin, the first antibiotic. The Great Recession fostered enhanced financial protections for Americans. The 9/11 terrorist attacks catalyzed the longest war in US history.

This pandemic will also change society in irrevocable ways.

With more than 46,000 people already dead in the US and millions unemployed in a matter of weeks, the crisis is pushing Americans to embrace new perspectives about which safeguards the country should have in place including universal healthcare in case something of this magnitude strikes again.

And as New Yorkers gather at their windows each night at 7 p.m. to cheer for front-line healthcare workers, it's also possible this crisis as depressing and draining as it's been will inspire a new generation of doctors, nurses, and scientists.

The pandemic is exposing many of America's flaws, particularly the dangers of hubris and the toxicity of the movement against science. It's raising questions about the status of the US as a global power.

And there are rising concerns that public-health tracking by the government will cause constitutional debates down the line. As with 9/11's aftermath, the coronavirus has sparked a new debate regarding the tradeoffs between liberty and security.

At the moment, it's impossible to know where this crisis will lead. The US does not yet have a robust system of testing in place for the virus, meaning the country lacks a full picture of the scale of the outbreak within its borders. But we can gain perspective on where this road might take us, and maybe even find hope, by examining the ways America changed in earlier crises.

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Coronavirus will change America forever. Past crises offer hints of what's to come. - Business Insider - Business Insider

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