By Carlton Joseph
As 2021 comes to an end, the World Heath Organization reports that over 5 million people have died from COVID-19. Worst, vaccines have been available since the beginning of the year, but more contagious variants, unvaccinated populations, misinformation, and normal activities, are allowing lots of people to get infected.
In 2020, there was no vaccine, most people were social distancing, wearing masks, and being really meticulous, now that vaccines are readily available people have let their guards down. This has led to more exposure and when combined with the Delta and Omicron variant, has resulted in higher transmission, more cases and more deaths.
The pandemic has resulted in closure of gyms, stadiums, pools, dance and fitness studios, physiotherapy centers, parks and playgrounds. People are therefore not able to actively participate in their regular individual or group sporting or physical activities outside of their homes, and have become less physically active, developed irregular sleep patterns and poor diets, resulting in weight gain and loss of physical fitness, and poor health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the 50 billion global music industry, where live music makes up over 50% of total revenues. Numerous music events, including music festivals, concert tours, and award shows, were cancelled or postponed, and while some musicians and composers were able to use the time to create new works, there were devastating effects on the many supporting people who relied on performers for their income.
Sports, a major contributor to economic and social development, has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. As a result, the contribution that sports make to the empowerment of women and young people, individuals and communities, as well as to health, education and social inclusion goals have been negatively impacted, especially low-income families. The long-term effects of stay home rules, especially in substandard housing, and lack of physical exercise, will have to be studied, evaluated and rectified.
Supply chains around the world have been negatively impacted by the global pandemic, driving inflationary fears and resulting in shortages of products and materials and slowing down economies. Trócaire programs in 20 countries are witnessing and responding to the devastating triple impact of Covid, climate change and conflict. Due to Covid lockdown measures people have not been able to travel to markets to sell their goods, go in search of daily labor to earn their living, or plant crops, the result is there is no money for food. The United Nations reported that Covid-19 has already triggered a dramatic worsening of hunger with 10% of the global population (811 million people) undernourished last year.
The global supply chain is expected to remain a challenge through 2022, and restructuring it has become the focus of insurance companies. The mismatches between supply and demand for a broad range of commodities from electronic chips, to furniture, bikes, paper and other goods could further intensify if economies pick up, and shortage of labor could also exacerbate the imbalances, leading to higher prices for consumers.
The pandemic has affected people regardless of nationality, level of education, income or gender. However, the poor has disproportionately suffered; students from privileged backgrounds, supported by their parents have found their way to alternative learning opportunities. Unfortunately, those from disadvantaged backgrounds often remained shut out when their schools shut down, potentially widening the education gap and the wealth inequality gap in the future.
It is predicted that the impacts of climate change are going to last longer than those of the pandemic as heavy monsoon rains and flooding have affected vast areas in Asia, including industry intensive regions in China, India, and Japan, complicating production and logistics for manufacturers worldwide.
US Congress cannot pass legislation wanted by large majorities of people, and Democracy itself is under threat with an all-out assault on voting rights by Republicans. Doctors and nurses are being threatened for dispensing Covid shots, and school board members are being attacked for supporting mask mandates. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider legal challenges to President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care workers.
2021 was as chaotic as 2020 but we must welcome 2022 and strive to make it better for everyone. COVID-19 has impacted every facet of our lives and will probably be with us for the rest of our lives. We must now learn how to work, play, achieve our goals and enjoy our lives, in spite of it.
I am encouraged by some of the decisions that young people are making and how they are reprioritizing their lives. The pandemic has made them realize that if they were ever going to get more from their jobs, more money, more freedom, more security, and more happiness, they must take a chance now. They are seeing opportunity in the disruptions.
Youths are recognizing that certain jobs are dead end jobs, not worth dying for, others want more pay but less stress, and/or expect better treatment from their bosses; still others enjoy working with their colleagues, but lack enthusiasm for their corporate jobs, and young married couples are deciding that one person, staying home with the child/children is a better option than paying for daycare. This period is designated as the “Great Resignation,” the pandemic-era phenomenon of record numbers of Americans quitting their jobs, more than 4 million a month since July, into a communal online experience.
Hopefully our youths will realize that America’s “talking heads” are just part of the system of deception, and that they are highly paid to misinform and channel their energies to keep them tied to the system and their continued exploitation. They are paid to invent narratives of public life that fuels populist politics and partisan divide stories that encourage racism and extremist actions against perceived enemies.