Light at The End of The Tunnel

By Drew Magness

Maybe it hit you the first time you put on a mask to go outside, or when your concert tickets were refunded, or when you received an email from your boss telling you that you would be working remotely for a short period of quarantine. Or maybe it even hit you when your kids were sent home from school.

It hit us when we could not get toilet paper, when we had to cancel our weddings, graduations, and hospital visitations. When we lost parents, grandparents, friends, uncles, and siblings.

At some point, we all had the same thought, “Everything is different now”.

On March 11th 2021, the United States marked one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, though many of us did not feel the gravity of that moment until days and weeks later.

In his remarks on this anniversary, President Biden honored those we lost as he reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a card with the number of United States Citizens lost to the coronavirus, at that date 527,726, nearly a week after that speech, the number has jumped to 547,300. For perspective, that means more Americans have been lost to the coronavirus than have died in combat in every U.S. military conflict since the civil war. Since the first COVID-19 death was recorded in the United States, we have lost an American every minute.

The toll has been staggering. We have all undergone this tragedy together. The pandemic and recession have been associated with a rise of ‘deaths from despair’ (drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol) of anywhere from 10 to 60 percent. The IMF estimates that the global economy shrunk by 4.4% in 2020, the worst economic crisis since the great depression.

And the response has been similarly staggering. The United States Congress under Republican and Democratic administrations has spent $5.2 trillion on COVID-19 relief, digging the nation out of economic despair. 45% of all US dollars ever created were printed in 2020.

After a year that taught us the worth of connection and the deep danger of isolation, the mission of the Washington Institute for Business, Government, and Society has never been more prescient. The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for stakeholders in business, government, and society to come together and work on improving our global community.

The Institute has been publishing an interactive global map every week, showing the evolution of the coronavirus. It has discussed the pandemic extensively during its fireside chats, including one concentrating on corporate social responsibility. It will also focus on the impact of the coronavirus on a wide array of society, including at a global sports conference, which will cover the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, as well as the Beijing winter games and the Qatar World Cup.