Long after the start of the pandemic, more of its long-lasting effects are brought to light
BY MCKENNA BAXTER STAFF WRITER
The COVID-19 pandemic brought no shortage of trials and tribulations. As the numbers of infected individuals climbed, so did the death tolls, eventually reaching several thousand each day. Recently, the pandemic reached a bleak milestone in that one in five hundred Americans have died of COVID-19.
Though the current United States death toll (over 672,000 deaths) is horrific as is, what many Americans don’t stop to consider is how this staggering number will trickle down, leaving the lackluster population to remind future generations of just how many lives the pandemic claimed.
Though several companies have developed vaccines, the virus continues its rampage across the United States with no signs of stopping in the near future. At its current rate of infection, COVID-19 will likely last into 2022 or longer. Some speculate COVID-19 will never truly be gone, as so many people are currently infected with it.
The only virus that has truly been eradicated is the smallpox virus, which humans developed a lasting immunity to after vaccination. However, this took over 200 years to achieve, so while eradication of COVID-19 is certainly possible, it will likely take a great many years.
Around one-third of the people formerly infected by the virus, even at its mildest, continue to experience symptoms even after recovering from the initial infection. These symptoms, colloquially known as post-COVID, can be as minor as headaches and fatigue or as major as organ damage.
Additionally, the symptoms of post-COVID have proven to not be purely physical, as those suffering from it may also experience depression, anxiety, memory and concentration issues, and trouble sleeping. Though some suffering from post-COVID went on to fully recover, others suffered from permanent symptoms, or even died from their afflictions.
The pandemic brought on other long-lasting changes as well, such as the increased use of masks. Though masks are no longer mandated in most public spaces, many vaccinated people continue to wear them out. Some feel wearing a mask while ill with a common cold or other lesser illness is their responsibility, as it lessens the likelihood of infecting another person. Others enjoy wearing masks to block out allergens in the air. Most, however, still wear their masks as a failsafe in case of asymptomatic spreading.
One of the biggest changes that will almost certainly last far into the future is teleworking, telemedicine and virtual school. During the first months of the pandemic, the world slowed to a halt, forcing people to adapt and use the internet for their jobs and classes.
After vaccinations took place, many people returned to their workplaces, though others continue to telework. Schools and instructors have better adapted to accommodate students for virtual classes, with some schools completely negating snow days in favor of continuing classes online.
The efficiency and timeliness of online work and school held our fast-paced society together in the midst of a pandemic that caught everyone off guard.
The pandemic is far from over, but life goes on. We must all do our part to keep our country happy and healthy. Wear a mask. Stay home if you aren’t feeling well. Work hard, play harder. Learn something new. Create something new. In a world shaken to its core by a pandemic, we are forced to stand tall and take hold of our lives, so go out, mask up and live a life worth living.