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ASSADI: Coronavirus, its impacts have silver linings

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In times of adversity, humanity chooses between despair and adaptation. 

My last column concerns the ways in which inequality is impacting society’s most vulnerable communities during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. This week, I want to highlight the pearls of this high-pressured situation. 

We can start with a micro-scale analysis. When confined to one household, alone time for oneself seems to wither away. Although many may see this as a negative consequence of quarantine, Americans can use an excuse to turn inward to their family. In an individualistic and market-driven society, where everything must be optimized for efficiency’s sake, Americans can lose sight of the importance of familial support.

Rather than spending energy trying to impress a boss or cop a managerial position, people are rooting their energy in relationships that are not under constant cost-benefit analysis.

With little alternatives to staying inside the home, many in my community are walking their dogs, running on a track and playing sports with their family. This challenges one premise about this generation: It is coined as technology-obsessed and addicted to social media. But when all in-person social interactions are cut off, from school to the workplace to shopping centers, people did not retreat to their electronics as expected. 

Currently, the alternatives to in-person schooling and working are through applications such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, WebEx and more. 

People are exhausted of their required technology use. Therefore when it comes to recreation, people are seemingly rejecting more voluntary screen time. They are opting for the outdoors and with their family members nonetheless. This can be viewed as a moment of realization and as a turning point in our generation’s view of recreation. 

We may be seeing the end of an automatic association of technology with fun and maybe it is for the better. Another unintended consequence of this shift in recreation is that dogs are definitely getting their steps in.

On a more global scale, we are seeing blue skies in the least likely of places. Pollution has plummeted in China, one of the largest contributors in terms of greenhouse gases. If you have not taken the time to look at the satellite images from NASA, it will lift your spirits. NASA air quality researcher Fei Liu said, “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event." 

The enforcement of business shutdowns have had a positive effect on other nations as well, especially Italy. And as above, so below. The environmental improvements on the ground can be seen when assessing water quality. The cloudy, polluted streams running through the busiest cities are now clearing up and supporting more wildlife. 

Although this is an exhausting period of time for our country and the planet, with every single day bringing new obstacles and dreadful news, it is imperative that we identify the few silver linings. 

Yara Assadi is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in public health. Her column, “Dose of Reality,” typically runs on alternate Thursdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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