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aka: Coronavirus

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's illustration of a SARS-CoV-2 virion, the virus that causes COVID-19.
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An outbreak of a brand new disease that was first identified in December 2019—named by the World Health Organization as "coronavirus disease 2019" or "COVID-19" for short (often referred to as a "coronavirus outbreak"note  due to it first being publicized before the disease's identification as a new strain of coronavirus related to SARS and MERS, named "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2" or "SARS-CoV-2")—was recognized as a pandemic by the WHO on March 11, 2020. The disease's outbreak and its subsequent progress and effects on the world were and are, without a question, the defining event of 2020 and may well end up defining the decade that is to follow.

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Compare: The Black Death, The Spanish Flu.


The Basics

First reported in a fish market in Wuhan, China, it has to date infected over 59 million people, with over 1.3 million deaths. The outbreak was said to be caused by yewei (a form of exotic game meat similar to bushmeat) being sold at a local fish and animal market, due to inadequate sanitation standards (similar to the poor livestock conditions and general sanitary standards that caused the 1993 E. coli outbreak in The United States; paralleling that outbreak, the Chinese government has enacted stricter regulations on yewei in response). The disease has spread far and wide since it was first noticed and swept every continent in the world except for Antarctica (which, apart from a small handful of research outposts, is uninhabited by humans). Major centers of outbreak outside China include the United States, Europe (especially Russia; the United Kingdom; Spain; France; Sweden; Italy, which is a popular destination for Chinese tourists); Iran; India; and Brazil. The pandemic led to increased public concerns about personal health and food hygiene, with social distancing being enforced. Business, education, and non-essential trade in many countries were suspended; it was estimated that more than 1.7 billion students globally were affected by school suspension, as classes shifted online to varying degrees of success. The aviation and tourism industries were hit especially hard, as many countries enacted travel bans and lockdowns. By the end of March 2020 it had spread to the rest of the economy, with the U.S. losing an unprecedented 10 million jobs in the last two weeks of March.note  By April 16th, the US had lost over 22 million jobs in just a month. For comparison, it took 3 years for The Great Depression to lose 25 million jobs.note  By the end of May 2020, the job losses were exceeding 40 million. Many economists believe that the global economy has spiraled into a deep recession that has been called the "Great Lockdown" and the "Great Shutdown", with the economic loss having already become far greater than the Time of Shedding and Cold Rocks of the late 2000s. The United States ended the first half of 2020 with the most infections and deaths in the world, with over 12.4 million people infected and over 261,000 deathsnote  (with the most infections and deaths coming from the Northeast from March to May 2020; and later in the southern States and California during the summer) as of November 2020.note 

North American Response and Troubles

One reason for the disastrous U.S. situation is that lockdown measures caused widespread protests and unrest in the United States, with even President Donald Trump's administration demanding various state governors to end the lockdown measures and stay-at-home orders and "reopen the economy". Wearing a surgical mask to both prevent the spread of the virus and protect oneself from it became a particular flashpoint issue, in part due to Trump's vocal distaste for it; in May a security guard was actually murdered for insisting a customer wear a mask. Many "essential" workers who are not subject to stay-at-home measures (medical workers, grocery store clerks, etc.) argue they are not being properly protected and/or compensated for their continued work as is, and are only put more at risk by relaxations of safety measures — further highlighting the continued class and racial disparities at work in the U.S. and the failures of the government to provide for the common good in a crisis.

Due in part to pressure from both Washington and their residents, many states started easing up on stay-at-home orders by or on Memorial Day weekend only to see people often deliberately not following the social distancing/mask-wearing restrictions that remained, resulting in a dramatic uptick of cases and new shortages of protective equipment for workers at hospitals. Matters only became tenser as waves of Black Lives Matter/anti-Police Brutality protests around the country and the world launched that summer; even with many protesters wearing masks and attempting to distance themselves from each other note  there were fears of their being "superspreader" events alongside events related to the "reopen the economy" movement — e.g. Walt Disney World reopening in July even as infections in Florida were reaching record levels; K-12 schools and colleges being pushed to reopen the following month after attempts at online "distance learning" largely failed (especially for poor families); and even/especially Trump's 2020 Presidential campaign rallies, which often discouraged/ignored masks and social distancing.

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Tellingly, a second wavenote  of COVID-19 emerged that summer — directly contrasting predictions that the virus would be less prevalent as a result of the hotter weather — affecting young adults more heavily than before and leading to the pandemic again becoming the top point of focus in the news cycle and public discussion, eclipsing the protests. Many analysts pin the second wave more on the mass reopenings, particularly in the southern states and California where most of the infections and deaths occurred, as a result of people participating in them being much less likely than the protesters to adhere to protective practices. The pandemic shouldered some of the blame for the protests starting in the first place, since there was so little to distract people from news about Police Brutality (not to mention that the anti-lockdown protests of the spring had been far less criticized), and proved a major complication for the 2020 Presidential election due to many voters struggling to vote early or by mail rather than risk long waits and/or infection at in-person voting sites, problems already apparent during primary season. In one of the most dramatic - and to many, so predictable that the only twist is that it didn't happen sooner - twists in an already-dramatic election, Trump and many of his associates caught the virus in late September. Trump's case was severe enough he had to be hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center for a few days. Even after this, he continued to downplay the severity of the pandemic, arguing people could not let it "dominate" their lives and even claiming he was immune to it as he returned to campaigning. What was generally regarded as a third wave began in the back half of October, now with virtually the entire country seeing huge upticks in cases and hospitalizations as colder weather set in (discouraging outdoor gatherings, dining, etc.), many people continued to flout social distancing and mask rules, and the Trump administration shifted its focus to managing the pandemic rather than ending it, putting its emphasis on the development of vaccines and treatments rather than reinforcing rules, reintroducing lockdowns, and/or providing economic support to hurting families and business owners. Trump himself would end up losing the 2020 election to Democratic nominee Joe Biden in part because of public frustration and disapproval with his handling of the pandemic.

North of America, Canada has had much better success in containing the virus to an extent, due in part to bipartisan cooperation from various politicians on all levels of government that set aside differences to flatten the curve. Notably, Ontario Premier Doug Ford (a conservative) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (a liberal), who have butted heads in the past, worked famously together to handle the pandemic, and the curve has been, as of August of 2020, stabilized to a cautiously optimistic level, although in October they were dealing with a second wave of infections the authorities feared. Federally, the government was forced to institute unprecedented social programs for those who were now unemployed by the pandemic, measures that were seen by many Canadians as being a critical lifeline. The pandemic also shined a light onto the failures of the systems as they were, and forced the government to resolve them into a "21st century system." Some of these social programs included the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) note , a reduction of requirements for Employment Insurance benefits, and benefits for sickness, maternity, and saving graces for gig economy and self-employed people. As a result of these and a careful strategy to dealing with the pandemic, Canada has been reported to be recovering better economically and otherwise than its southern neighbour.

On a related note, the pandemic has also caused a slight souring of relations between some sections of people within the United States and Canada - the shared border between the two countries was closed for all but essential travel, with all travelers into Canada (citizen or not) required by law to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. While this has mostly been seen as a reasonable measure to slow the spread, especially given the abysmally bad infection rate south of the shared border, some particularly selfish Americans have taken advantage of the highway route between Washington state and Alaska, which passes through Canada note , to skirt the rules. Reports of harassment of people with American plates in Canada (many of whom are legal residents of the country) have been common since the border was closed, and opinions on Americans have dipped slightly in Canada as a result of these few.

The pandemic has also caused supply shortages across the globe from hand sanitizers, food, toilet paper, hand soaps, surgical masks, protective gear, and even hair dye (primarily due to mass panic buying), thus forcing grocery stores to ration produce and goods. The food shortages are made even worse when farmers are forced to destroy their own crops and produce despite the significantly increased demand for food from grocery stores and food banks.note  There was also a surge in gun sales in the United States, and a run on the market in precious metals such as silver and gold due to the fear of potential societal collapse due to the coronavirus outbreak and uncertainty over how the presidential victory of Joe Biden will pan out (from Trump adamantly contesting the results, fears of violence breaking out from his most ardent supporters, and questions over how Biden's economic recovery plan will work out).

European Response and Troubles

Europe has seen the fastest spread after China, with Northern Italy as its epicenter. There are pressing concerns about how the pandemic will reshape the economy of the European Union. The struggling economies in Southern Europe have made a proper answer to the outbreak trickier note , have requested the countries of Northern Europe to adopt a policy of debt sharing, the so-called "coronabonds" that would ease the struggle. The supporters of this policy are the Latin countries note  along with Greece, Ireland and Slovenia, with Northern European countries note  showing their reluctance at the prospect. This hot debate has driven Europe into economic and cultural clashes over how the Union should be run: Southern countries are notoriously more prone to let the state intervene in financial matters, while Northern countries are more prone to the opposite, and these tendencies are shown in their response to the outbreak (or lack of, in some cases). As of August 2020, cases in Europe had widely dropped and the EU reached an agreement on shared economic recovery mechanisms, giving hope that the crisis might be slowly coming to an end, but the lack of actual concerted health policy was still presenting challenges as some countries such as France and Spain showed signs of a coming second wave. Said second wave hit by the end of that month, with multiple countries in the region seeing record case counts and several reimposing lockdowns in the fall/autumn.

In Italy, another hard-hit area of the pandemic with the sixth highest death toll after the US, Brazil, India, Mexico, and the UK, there has been growing discontent among some Italians with the European Union due to the slow response to the pandemic, Italy's already difficult economic turmoil from the previous decade and an erroneous (and often deliberately manufactured) but widespread perception that other countries such as Cuba, Russia, and China were offering greater or faster assistance than fellow EU members. A few fringe right-wing Italian mayors and politicians (such as Italian vice-president of Chamber of Deputies Fabio Rampelli) took down European Union flags and replaced them with Italian flags, and some Italians took to social media protesting the European Union by burning European Union flags. Northern Italy and its key economic region, Lombardy, have the highest mortality rate in Europe and have experienced firsthand the lockdown that is being adopted in other European countries. The lockdown has unfortunately slowed their production. In Southern Italy the virus is seeing far less casualties, but the lockdown has frozen its already rocky economy, with unemployment and poverty raising concerns about how local mafias will use the lockdown to tie impoverished families to its gears if/when the state fails to take proper initiative.

Among Northern European countries, Sweden emerged as a surprise hotspot despite having one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Unlike the other Nordic countries, Sweden opted for a partial lockdown (i.e. restricting large gatherings but not closing gyms and restaurants) with its government arguing that a total lockdown would harm the economy and that personal responsibility of its citizens would be more effective in limiting the disease. Unfortunately this approach backfired with Sweden having a fatality rate of 58.6 deaths per 100,000 people as of October 2020; by comparison, that is approximately 10 times higher than that of neighboring Norway, which went into a total lockdown. As for averting a recession, the Swedish economy ended up contracting anyway and many analysts predict that its economic recovery will be bumpier than that of Norway's. To make matters worse, when the Nordic countries began reopening their borders for travel, they excluded Swedish residents due to the country's high number of cases with Denmark going so far as deploying physical barriers and border guards. Similarly damming are recent revelations that the Swedish government discouraged wearing life-saving masks even among health care providers in an attempt to downplay the pandemic, which only placed more people in harm's way. Sweden's second wave arrived a bit later than that of the rest of Europe, owing to expanded testing and contact tracing, and the death rate had slowed to a trickle; nonetheless, the country became a cautionary tale for any nation that doesn't pursue complete lockdowns or proper safety precautions. However, several countries where complete lockdowns were imposed, such as the UK and France, have now surpassed Sweden in per capita fatality rates.note 

As time went on, the UK became one of the hardest-hit of all European countries, with a confused governmental response at first counting on herd immunity before hastily switching to the same lockdown measures as elsewhere when shown projections of the catastrophic consequences would ensue from their original strategy. This was further worsened by the UK's complicated and increasingly hostile break from the EU, which has isolated it from shared European recovery efforts, dividing the nation and further damaging its economy at the worst possible moment. The pandemic was especially disastrous for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the pandemic not only derailed the post-Brexit talks but Johnson became infected in the process. He recovered, but a rise in cases forced the UK to go back into a national lockdown in November, just over seven months after they had gone into their first lockdown.

The Severity

There are several key reasons for the pandemic's severity, but before listing them, remember that humanity has known about this virus for less than a year, and while research continues at a frantic pace, no facts about its properties should be considered iron-clad; they are mostly based on the preliminary results currently available and the behavior of similar coronaviruses.

  1. The disease is spread via airborne distribution through respiratory droplets. All an infected person needs to do to release the virus — and all a healthy person needs to do to catch it — is breathe.
  2. While it needs a live host, it can survive for three hours in the air in the aforementioned droplets which can reach as far as six feet away from the infected person, and it can survive for two to three days on a surface, and people who touch those surfaces can be infected if they touch their face or eyes. (Though infection via this route appears to be much less prevalent than direct respiratory contact.) It also jumps between species with relative ease, with several identified cases of pets testing positive after their owners.
  3. There is a very slow incubation period; it takes up to two weeks for the virus to become symptomatic, and there's research to suggest that some never develop symptoms at all despite being infected by the virus.
  4. An infected person is already contagious during this incubation period, resulting in asymptomatic carriers Definition  who can spread the disease and infect others without knowing they have it in the first place, making it harder to contain. There's even evidence that people can be contagious for some time after apparent recovery, though much less so than in earlier stages of the disease. (Compare this to SARS and MERS, which are the most contagious when a person is already flat-on-their-back sick and can be isolated from the rest of the population easily.)
  5. Although the mortality rate in symptomatic cases is around 2%, which may not seem so bad, the disease's rapid spread and ease of transmission means that each day the hundreds of thousands of new infections conversely result in thousands of deaths.
  6. Although it is commonly believed that only sickly, elderly, or immune system compromised people are at risk of dying from the disease, reality is that the factors that affect the outcome of it are not fully understood yet. There are cases of very old people recovering from it and of healthy and fit people in their 20's or 30's that have died or ended up with life-long health problems. Research has uncovered a link between infection severity (and therefore mortality rate) and Vitamin D deficiency, with many high-profile specialist including Dr. Anthony Fauci advising people to supplement their diets with it. note 
  7. Whether or not an infected person acquires antibody immunity against further infection, and if so for how long, has been a hotly debated topic. (Remember, again, even the earliest victims have only had the disease for a few months.) As of September 2020, COVID-19 reinfections have been confirmed in Belgium, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and the US state of Nevada. A person who gets infected again, due to the lasting and long-term effects of the disease, is weaker to fight it again. And even if they recover from the disease completely, they can still have long-term signs and symptoms from which they may never recover due to permanent damage to many vital organs (i.e. lungs, heart, kidney, brain, etc.). A study by the Big Ten Conferencenote  showed that 1/3 of the athletes in the conference who contracted COVID-19 in summer practices developed potentially career-ending heart problems.
  8. Relatedly, much of the evidence currently available suggests that the main problem with the virus is that it is a blood infection as much as it is a "lung" infection; thickened or unusual blood is a very common report for severe COVID patients, and while the lungs are often heavily affected by this (being one of the most blood-rich organs in the body, natch) this is what causes the virus to play havoc on virtually every organ in the body, since the virus' effect on one's blood has knock-on effects in every organ or organic system the victim possesses.

In particular point number 4 has been cited as the main reason for the outbreak's severity; anyone you meet while going about your life can potentially infect everyone around them despite appearing healthy, and you are no exception! -- you might be infected as you read this without knowing it, but you cannot know for certain outside of being tested. Because of this, the need for widespread testing is much greater than for other diseases, but many governments either lack the resources to conduct the needed tests or waited until the person has developed symptoms already to proceed with the test, and by then the patient may have already infected an unknown number of people. Vaccine candidates and antivirals are being tested, but there are no official cures or vaccines for the disease yet and the threat of a treatment-resistant mutation constantly lingers overhead (owing to the lack of available scientific literature on how the virus mutates), leaving economically destructive social distancing as the only sure-fire form of prevention available.

In November 2020, the US-based biotech firm Pfizer announced very promising results in clinical trials of their vaccine, with early reports suggesting it could be as high as 90% effective. Pfizer is expected to apply to the FDA for emergency approval in mid-to-late November.

Okay, But What About TV and Tropes?

The pandemic and all the social distancing involved have had a massive impact on the entertainment industry, with theaters closing, major events being cancelled, and many creative works that were set for release in 2020 seeing their release dates changed multiple times as people take shelter in their homes, while the production of others was halted. Some films that hadn't been released to theaters yet are seeing unprecedented early digital releases or been put on direct-to-streaming (see this page and scroll down for more information). Some movies (such as those from Universal) are even arriving to digital platforms simultaneously with their theatrical releases, which might lead to massive changes in the film industry. By contrast, North American Comic Books is a medium facing a much tougher time, with Diamond Comic Distribution which rules a practical monopoly on the distribution of comics to retailers suddenly going on a weeks-long shutdown where no new comics would be shipped, pointing to a difficult future for the comic medium, further complicated by the fact that the digital market for traditional comics is still not as widespread as other forms of entertainment such as Film and TV, and most consumers still prefer the physical format (specially due to the inherent value of the comic itself in a widespread resale and collectible market).

Live theater and music will likely take years to recover, and likely not fully, in North America and Western Europe. Cirque du Soleil declared it was filing for bankruptcy in July due to all but one of their productions (ironically a Chinese resident show) being unable to reopen so long as social distancing/large gathering orders are in place and laid off thousands of performers, Broadway theaters in New York City will not reopen until mid-2021 at the earliest, and many smaller companies and venues face outright ruin. It came to the point that the U.K. government launched a campaign encouraging such artists to reconsider their career choices and retrain for "useful" jobs in October 2020, to much public disgust. It also had a devastating effect on the comic/pop culture convention market, with signature events like San Diego Comic-Con and DragonCon declaring their first cancellations in years if not ever, though they staged online-based alternative events as substitutes.

While the tourism and hospitality have taken a massive blow owing to travel restrictions, the cruising industry became one of the biggest casualties of the pandemic. During the beginning of pandemic, the Diamond Princess cruise ship became a major outbreak site owing to its proximity to Wuhan, the cramped conditions, and lack of sanitary regulations, which lead to 20% of all people on board becoming infected. The news of the outbreak dampened enthusiasm for cruising and lead to stock prices of cruise lines to tank by 70% in just two months. Many cruise lines were barred from bailouts by the US government as they are registered in foreign countries to avoid higher taxes and regulations. Even if the pandemic ends, many industry analysts doubt that the cruising will ever make a comeback given how the tightly packed nature of cruise ships makes them highly susceptible to disease outbreaks.

Compared to other entertainment mediums, video games are thriving amidst the pandemic — at least at first glance. As game studios already allow working remotely and playing video games doesn't involve physical interaction with others, the industry saw record revenue during the first few months of the pandemic with relatively few layoffs. Most notably, Nintendo saw its profits soar by more than 428% in the April-June quarter thanks to the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons around the same time mass lockdowns were happening. However, the cancellation of major trade shows like E3 has been a blow for indie developers who rely on conventions for exposure. As the pandemic dragged on, video game production began experiencing major setbacks as remote working limits developer access to equipment normally located in studios like motion capture stages. When it comes to hardware sales, the pandemic proved to both a blessing and curse especially with the Ninth Console Generation. While a new round of lockdown orders in autumn lead to high demand for consoles and PCs, the pandemic negatively impacted manufacturing and distribution supply chains, leading to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S selling out quickly at launch. For now, the video game industry are faring better than its film and theater peers, but there is still some doubt whether the current path is sustainable.

However, despite the delay or cancellation of multiple events worldwide, the international lockdown was made more bearable than it could have been mere decades ago thanks to the widespread availability of the Internet, providing many with easy access to sophisticated telecommunications, home entertainment, and education to help make the required physical distancing that much easier, as it has enabled many to not only work from home but also ensured that the streaming medium has flourished under the circumstances, with services like YouTube, Netflix and Disney+, to say nothing of online media retail like Google Play and Apple TV taking up the slack. Indeed, major film companies have taken the opportunity to make a virtue out of a necessity to try releasing major films online directly, such as Universal's DreamWorks Animation's Trolls: World Tour, to promising financial results. In some cases, pre-existing works involving themes of characters becoming sick were temporarily pulled from rotation so people wouldn't be reminded of the pandemic, such as Disney Channel pulling an episode of Amphibia in which Anne pretends to be sick from its lineup. In fact, with theatrical presention heavily restricted under the circumstances and regular television on the decline, Disney has announced it will be reorienting its media production with online streaming being the primary presentation medium.

The 2020 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest (to be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands) was canceled because of the pandemic, just two months before it would have happened, marking the first time the long-running competition had ever been canceled since its inception in 1956. It was later decided that the prospective 2021 edition would return to Rotterdam with heightened health and safety precautions, as well as contingency plans to prevent a second cancelation if the virus is still a global issue by that point. While many of the acts who would have participated have confirmed their plans to return for 2021, all of their 2020 entries were deemed null and void (due to competition rules) and will need to select new songs to present. (The slogan for the 2020 edition, Open Up, became an ironic downer in the wake of its cancelation.)

After a brief period in March of just shooting without audiences, the television industry began to visibly adapt its forms of presentation to conditions. Some newscasters and most talk show hosts and live-episode reality show talent quickly adapted rooms, garages or patios in their homes into makeshift mini-studios - with guests also appearing by teleconference. SNL also finished its season with three at home episodes taped in this manner. Series like Holey Moley and The Masked Singer incorporated animated segments to replace ones they couldn't film. Several new shows were also created with teleconferencing as a primary feature to replace those not in production.

By fall 2020 production resumed on an adapted basis with socially distanced panel/contestant placement, audiences of teleconference monitors or cardboard cutouts (as previously done by pro sports), use of mannequins and spouses for kissing scenes - as well as less visible measures such as reduced hair/makeup, robotic cameras, masked crews and regular testing. However, news/talk guests often continued appear primarily via teleconference. The beginning of the Fall 2020 TV season was effectively shifted to November or January depending on the network. However, globally-oriented reality shows The Amazing Race and Survivor fully halted production of future seasons until feasible.

The Virus of the Mind

All this being said, the isolation caused by the quarantines has had a noticeably negative effect on the mental health of many populations, especially extraverts, for whom lack of large-scale social interaction is psychologically exhausting, leading psychologists to express concern about the sociopsychological aftereffects of the pandemic; especially given how several hospitals in the U.S. have reported a rise in suicide cases since self-quarantine went into effect.

Misinformation and conspiracy theories have been widespread during the pandemic (such as claims of the virus being man-made or a bioweapon or accusations that the death tolls were inflated to push a political agenda or even that the entire pandemic has been fabricated and there's no virus at all). It has gotten to the point that various social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google had to work with the World Health Organization to combat the spread of misinformation (which had the unfortunate consequences of censoring many creators who just mentioned the virus by its name, forcing them to find ways around it). The other wiki has more information on this.

As a knock-on effect of the COVID-19 outbreak, global stock markets began to enter a correction in late February and then outright crashed in the week between March 9 and March 13, with Monday and Thursday of that week being called "Black Monday" and "Black Thursday" respectively as a result. Stocks only continued downhill from there, with the Dow Jones dropping below 20,000 for the first time since it climbed above that threshold in 2017. As it is, some businesses are seeing their stocks skyrocket, none more dramatically than Zoom, an online video conferencing service that has proven most useful for business, entertainment, social or even religious meetings in this public health crisis. However, that platform also faced criticism for its security flaws as a phenomenon called "Zoombombing" emerged, with many hackers, Internet trolls and delinquents intruding on video conference calls, then speaking or sharing racist, antisemitic, and/or otherwise Not Safe for Work content, usually forcing Zoom sessions to prematurely end.

One notable negative social effect of the pandemic is heightened xenophobia and racism against people perceived as being from areas that are heavily affected by the virus, such as East and Southeast Asians (especially ethnic Chinese). There has also been heightened racism against foreigners (particularly Africans) in China due to fears of a "second wave" of coronavirus outbreaks coming from foreignersnote . Scientists feared horseshoe bats and pangolins would become even more endangered as a result of hunting due to their being believed to be initial carriers of the disease, and Wuhan's public image was near-irreparably damaged as a result of being the center of the pandemic's first major outbreak. Calls for tighter restrictions on open-air markets have also become louder in response to the outbreak.

Countries that have begun to make preparations to reopen their borders have announced they will not allow citizens from countries with high infection rates into their countries. Due to the U.S. having the highest rate of infection worldwide this has severely limited American citizens from international travel (which is a tremendous reversal from the post-World War II status quo previously enjoyed by virtually every American). Notably only 9 countries in the world are open to U.S. citizens with no restrictions, all others require medical proof or enforce a quarantine protocol in order to allow them into their countries, and even a Canadian poll has determined that 81% of the Canadian citizens polled wish for their U.S. border to remain closed at least through the end of 2020.

The Continuing Effects

The World Health Organization has faced criticisms for how they handled the pandemic, to the point that many governments have accused the multinational organization of being directly influenced by Beijing, and the Trump administration considered cutting funding to said organization (the United States is considered the top financial contributor to the World Health Organization) before announcing their intent to withdraw from the WHO entirely. The US government itself faced criticisms for its slow response to the pandemic, including misinformation (such as the promotion of chloroquine, injections of disinfectant, and internal UV light application as treatments, which prompted the medical community and cleaning products manufacturers to quickly and publicly contradict that messaging saying those latter methods are medically useless and dangerous), the firing of US Navy captain Brett Crozier for whistleblowing on infected sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, and a push to prematurely end lockdowns, which resulted in a far more devastating second wave of the virus with a much heavier effect on young adults. The Chinese government has utilized the pandemic as a foreign relations opportunity to portray themselves as a world leader in combating pandemics by sending medical teams and supplies to hard-hit areas (such as Italy), although the Chinese government has also faced criticisms within their own population and from other governments on how they have responded to the virus (such as the government's attempt to silence the Chinese whistleblower doctor, Li Wenliang, for trying to warn the public about the coronavirus before it became a pandemic). The pandemic has also worsened U.S. and Chinese diplomatic relations, which were already tense during the previous decade with the Trump administration's trade war with China. It has gotten to the point where both the United States and China are blaming each other for causing the pandemic with various acts of misinformation (such as the Chinese government's accusations that the coronavirus was brought by the U.S. military, and the American government's accusations that it began in a lab in Wuhan).

Practically every sports league on the planet, from the highest professional leagues down to local, amateur suburban leagues were either delayed from starting, prevented from finishing earlier than anticipated, had their seasons canceled outright or just ended things prematurely (with American football leagues that started in the fall being the only relatively lucky ones there), and public attendances were severely curtailed, if not outright banned altogether. The 2020 Summer Olympics was moved to 2021 as a result of the outbreak, after it forced many sports tournaments and qualifiers involved with the Olympics to be canceled, making it the first Olympics to be postponed in history (though with the "2020" branding intact), and the fourth games to be disrupted in the Olympic cycle (the 1916 Olympic games were canceled due to World War I, while World War II forced the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 games, also making the 2020 Olympics the only one to be disrupted for a reason other than war).

Where do we go from here?

As the pandemic is still ongoing, the full impact of it cannot be fully determined, and the full impact may not be truly understood until years, maybe even decades later, depending on how things go. Many analysts predict that it will be the next big cultural and political reset button for the world moving forward in the same way the September 11, 2001 attacks functioned. In particular, it has been compared to The Spanish Flu of 1918 when similar precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing took place, and some analysts suggest that the pandemic fatigue will eventually usher in a new era of hedonism and spontaneity akin to The Roaring '20s. However, what exactly will come out of it is still only a matter of highly malleable guesswork at the moment.

The pandemic in fiction

Film

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, the first film with mainstream exposure to address the subject, more precisely how people in the USA live through it and how the Trump administration handles it. That mockumentary wasn't intended to be about it since it started filming before the outbreak, but the inevitable circumstances prompted Sacha Baron Cohen to include it.
  • Corona, an upcoming Canadian drama thriller film about a group of people trapped in an elevator during the pandemic. The film was written and directed by Mostafa Keshvari, and made in part to address xenophobia and racism related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Covid Zombies, a comedy horror film directed by Charles Band. It stars Cody Renee Cameron as Barbie, a woman who finds herself facing an outbreak of zombies infected by the pandemic.
  • Songbird, an upcoming thriller film produced by Michael Bay. It takes place in 2024 and follows a couple that tries to meet during the still ongoing pandemic and lockdown. This version of the virus has considerably mutated, with a mortality rate of 50%. Production started in May 2020.
  • Totally Under Control is a documentary by Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger, that details the Trump administration's response to and handling of the pandemic in America.
  • Shudder Original supernatural horror film Host was set in April 2020, during the early weeks of the UK's first lockdown. It is about a group of young women who accidentally summon a demon over a Zoom call.

Live-Action Television

Music

  • Fetch the Bolt Cutters, an album by Fiona Apple produced during the US lockdown that explores themes and imagery of confinement relevant to the pandemic as well as Apple's own personal history.
  • Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts, two albums released by Nine Inch Nails during the pandemic as a show of solidarity with their fans.
  • McCartney III, an album single-handedly put together by Paul McCartney during the first UK lockdown.
  • While discussing the ongoing Development Hell of his still-upcoming album I/O, Peter Gabriel noted that he had written a new song about the pandemic after the first UK lockdown forced him to delay the record yet again.
  • Luke Combs' "Six Feet Apart" was written about all of the things he wants to do but can't because of the pandemic.

Theatre

  • Covid fan tutte: A comedic adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera Così Fan Tutte, depicting life in the spring of 2020 as disrupted by the pandemic. It was created and produced by the Finnish National Opera.

Video Games

  • In Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, Layla's brother asks in an e-mail if the reason she's disappearing for a while is because she's socially distancing from COVID-19, when the reality is that she's looking through Eivor's memories with the help of Shaun and Rebecca.
  • Covid99io is a Battle Royale Game and .io Game hybrid in which you bounce COVID-19 viruses with a paddle and a refillable blast ability to 49 other players. Getting hit with a virus raises your temperature, which causes you to lose if you reach 104 degrees. You can send viruses to others every so often and select how you target the other players.
  • World Of Mines received a sequel called World of Virus in June 2020, which is similar to the original but with a red virus you have to flag with pills and non-virus tiles you have to uncover instead. The game's icon depicts a girl wearing a mask, removing any remaining ambiguity what virus it is.

Webcomics

  • Apocalyptic Horseplay: The epilogue of the comic takes place in the year 2020 and showcases what the characters got up to after the events of the story. When it focus on Pesty, the horsemen of pestilence, it's shown that he was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The reason? To bring back his horse, Fever, who was stabbed and killed during the events of the story just as she reunited with him. Unleashing the pandemic allowed him enough power to reform her so the two could live peacefully in the East.

Western Animation

  • Bob's Burgers: Season 11, episode 2 "Terms of In-Rear-Ment" released October 4, 2020 centers around an outbreak of pinworms and the family quarantining and washing their hands to prevent the spread in a clear allegory for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • South Park: "The Pandemic Special", with it naturally satirizing life during the pandemic around the town, as well as add in commentary about the "Defund the Police" campaigns that sprouted during the pandemic.

Alternative Title(s): Coronavirus, COVID 19, Coronavirus Disease 2019, Coronavirus Pandemic, Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

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