The Fallout We Need to Consider

The dark humor abounds. Funny videos are hitting my inbox, and my texts are blowing up with memes about the increased need for alcohol and the decreased need for toilet paper — we all seem to have much more than we need. I appreciate the laughs, I really do. I need them. As I’ve learned the hard way, without dark humor, there would sometimes be no humor at all, and laughter truly is good medicine.

Still, there is much about this that isn’t the slightest bit funny. It is not just the risk to our elderly population that should be sobering, it is the long term effects of the quarantine. The mixed messages from elected officials, school administrators and “experts” are sending everyone on a high/low information roller coaster. In the same press release, we are being told to panic and close our doors, and also, don’t worry, we have this all under control. In the same email, we are reading, call the police on your neighbors if you see them at a field, and here’s a great idea to kill time, bake a cake. BTW, there was no flour on the shelves this morning. In daily online posts, we can at the same time, learn the only way to stop this apocalyptic virus is to shut down the world, and also, it is all a hoax.

Will quarantining the entire population work? Time will tell. I desperately hope with our lack of immunity, the next wave won’t cripple us more. Maybe our children should just never go to college, it’s simply too risky. I think it is critical to remember, when you are speaking about this and judging your neighbors (maybe even calling the cops on their kids for playing outside,) not everyone is of the opinion we are acting prudently. Though it is quickly looking other, this is still America, correct? We will have to do what we are told, but we don’t all have to agree with the rationale. I don’t know if this is right or wrong, the facts are far from clear, but I do know everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

Right or wrong, here are some of the things that may be easy to forget in our well-appointed, well-stocked homes.

  • People who live paycheck to paycheck, or tip to tip, will suffer more than those of us who are bored in our homes. Many of my patients can barely afford their medication as it is. What will weeks with no work do to them? They will certainly opt for food for their children over medication for themselves. I pray they have enough saved for that.
  • We are already a culture of loneliness and isolation. It may be fine for a celeb like Hilary Duff, in her beautiful home with her husband and kids, to think people who want to socialize are “a*%holes”, but what about the person who lives alone and is battling depression? This social isolation will have negative ramifications on people with mental illness, and I worry about the suicide rate going even higher.
  • Many small businesses will never recover. What will their owners’ futures look like? These same small businesses, when they fail, will be firing the most hard-working and underserved in our communities.
  • Whole industries will be affected, the travel industry, sports and entertainment, food and hospitality, and retail to name just a few.
  • With a destroyed economy, how will our graduating college seniors find jobs after they receive their diploma in the mail?
  • I can almost guarantee an increase in domestic violence, not only toward women, but toward children. (I know there is a homeschooling meme in there somewhere, but I do not say that at all to be funny.)
  • Many of our children, who are already anxious, will become fearful of human contact, fearful of germs, fearful of living their lives.
  • We now have college kids, who belong on campuses, home for an extended period of time (likely beyond the quarantine,) with no sports, no work to be had, and little to do for their online classes. They are adults, no matter how many Facebook posts are encouraging us to parent them. They will drink. They will do drugs. They may drive. I pray we won’t lose more of our young adults to accidents as a side effect of boredom.
  • Members of our community will be stigmatized because of their ethnicity, or even because of their opinion.
  • There are many people burying their loved ones (who didn’t die from coronavirus) in silence, unsupported by friends and family.
  • There is a generic mistrust of the people around us, which may be the absolute worst thing for our relationships. Every study tells us healthy relationships are the key to happiness and longevity.
  • The government is limiting freedom, and this is never without consequence.
  • Gun sales are up. Lots of bored kids are home. You do the math.
  • Then, there are the seemingly frivolous, but still heartbreaking, cancellations. Weddings, bar mitzvahs, trips, parties, tournaments, and graduations. These celebrations are milestones in our lives, they are the things we work for and plan for, they are the things that make life worth living.

This is not a vacation. This is not a choice. This is not, “Just stay inside for a few weeks, what’s the big deal? You have Netflix after all.” This is a disaster. It may or may not be a disaster that had to happen to save lives, but it is disastrous just the same. Of course, we must try to stay positive, but we must also be realistic. Some of us will get through largely unscathed. Many of us won’t. America may be strong, we may recover, but not without major cost, not only to our economy, but to our own health and the safety and wellbeing of our children.

Maybe the Coronavirus Will Save Lives

5 Ways to Reframe the Coronavirus

30+ Things to Do While You’re Quarantined

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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