How COVID-19 closures will irrevocably change our lives

By Physician Sense
Published April 28, 2020

Key Takeaways

We’re more than a month into quarantine life, and at this point, it’s hard to remember a time before COVID-19. The virus has touched all aspects of our lives, and it’s hard to see how its impact won’t ripple into the future, even after the virus is contained. 

PhysicianSense and MDLinx have devoted countless pixels to exploring the clinical implications of coronavirus. But what about the social implications? COVID-19 will reshape the way physicians live their lives outside of practice. In fact, it’s already starting to do so.

Housing Trends

Millennials were already opting for the suburban, white picket fence life. Now, with urban viral epicenters garnering all of the headlines, that’s a trend that’s likely to increaseClose proximity and mass transportation, while once were draws to city life, appear to have hastened the spread of coronavirus in New York City. 

It’s likely in the months and years ahead, we’ll see people fleeing the city for leafier locales. This likely will drive down the price of urban real estate, with the opposite bearing out in the burbs. Suburban hospitals and physician employers also may be seeing an expansion of the talent pool.

Education

Even in the healthiest of circumstances, college dorms and American classrooms are veritable petri dishes. Throw a deadly contagion into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster. It’s difficult to imagine education in America ever looking the same.

The annual seasonal illness spike in fall and winter is going to be an annual provocation of anxiety, for one. Perhaps school years will have to break from their traditional formats, timing breaks with the seasons rather than one long summer break. Additional sanitization steps may be required to keep classrooms and dorms clean. And, there’s already talks of children having to wear masks when they do return to school.

Some students -- particularly on the college and university level -- might eschew classroom learning for only-only options. This could either be a matter of student preference, or necessity, depending on how the next 18 months shake out with the pandemic. 

Travel

Travel presents two important considerations. The first, will the travel industry survive? Definitely not as we know it. While Americans will always want to be on the move, quarantine has dealt a forceful blow to all travel-oriented companies, from airlines to cruises. It’s likely that when this is over, more than a few will be gone.

The price of travel will likely go down with the slackened demand, but will anybody want to go anywhere? On one hand, yes. Months of cabin fever have many extroverts longing for time out in the world, at home and abroad. But on the other hand, no. Many who would normally travel may otherwise be afraid to do so. Regardless of where you fall, when the viral particles settle (and hopefully become inert), travel deals will likely abound.

The way we travel is also likely to change. How do you socially distance in a traditional coach seat, for example, where your neighbors are practically sitting on top of you? The same can be said for trains and subways. Airports and rail stations may have to adhere to strict sanitation protocols. Travelers may have to endure temperature screenings. The two-hour window arrival suggestion for international flights just might have to become three or more.

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