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The Potential Economic and Societal Impacts of COVID-19

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: March 29, 2020
The Potential Economic and Societal Impacts of COVID-19

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There are many different ways that COVID-19 is going to affect the world. To quote the CDC “The disruption of daily life might be severe.” They are talking about the USA but this applies to the world as well. They should know because they totally failed the public on many levels at this point and increased the threat and danger to every person residing in the USA.

In this article, I am going to concentrate on some of the things that at this point are either starting to occur or very likely to occur over the next few months.

Before I address supply chain disruptions and other societal impacts, I want to address how the government and the Center For Disease Control have totally failed and endangered the medical professionals and law enforcement officers of the United States.

They failed in the following ways:

  • Did not provide timely and accurate information to police, medics, doctors, nurses, and other professionals. They did not tell these fine folks how contagious COVID-19 actually is. They never expressed that this disease is aerosolized.
  • Provided no way for medical professionals to test. The long delay in testing supplies combined with delivering dirty and unusable test kits has made a bad situation much worse than it had to be.
  • The CDC has stopped reporting testing after complaints about how few they were doing. This is irresponsible and not how an agency that is supposed to be working in the best interest of the health of America should act.
  • Refusing to acknowledge that the incubation period of COVID-19 is likely longer than 14 days. The result is an inadequate quarantine period.

Coronavirus tests have been expensive for some.

The fees for the coronavirus test are hard for many to cover. Insurance does not cover all of the fees but there are some states such as NY attempting to require insurance agencies to waive the cost. An unaffordable cost discourages people that suspect they may have the virus from coming forward, thus further endangering the health of the public. In an article from The Miami Herald a man claimed that he received a bill for $3,270 for a test and was responsible for $1400 of that after his insurance. The man had recently returned from China and arrived in Miami.

This is shameful.

The people that work hard to provide medical and emergency services for us are being let down and we will all pay for this in the future. What happens when the people trained to take care of us when we are sick and keep communities safe cannot because they are sick too?

The results of these decisions are highlighted in the stories and videos below.

12 of the 30 firefighters and police officers that responded to the COVID-19 outbreak at the LifeCare Nursing Home in Kirkland, Washington are now exhibiting flu-like symptoms at the time of this writing. I really wish these fine folks had been informed and provided with some gear to protect themselves. This is tragic.

5 Dallas police officers were sent home after it was discovered they were potentially exposed to COVID-19 due to interaction during the arrest and processing of a man.

Even if you ignore the rest of my article, I urge you to at least watch the video below that highlights the struggle of doctors and how they cannot get what they need to test patients.

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Almost all clothing was made in China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Even the fancy name brand designer labels that cost a fortune per piece take advantage of the low labor costs in these countries to produce their designer duds.

All those inexpensive cotton socks, underwear, and packs of t-shirts that we are used to are not going to be on the shelves. Some are still made in America but it will take quite some time to create the infrastructure necessary to meet increased domestic demand.


Luckily, America is a country that produces more food than it consumes. There will be food as long as there are people to work on the farms. However, there are imported food items that you and your family may like a lot that could become either impossible to get or more expensive due to the collapse of the global shipping industry and how hard it is to procure the ingredients.

Other countries that rely on the United States for food on some level will suffer a lot as crops and foods are not exported but consumed domestically or only exported to countries that are close enough to make it economically feasible.

Pharmaceutical Drugs

We rely on China for most antibiotics. India produces a lot of final product medications but many of the active ingredients are produced in China. There are already some medications that are starting to be harder to find. While some may rest a bit easier when reassured by Indian drug manufacturers that they have an 8 week supply on hand, that is not a big enough cushion to make me think this is not a serious problem.

Many people renewed their prescriptions sooner rather than later when items started appearing in the news that indicated that meds may be harder to get or that they may need to stay at home for many weeks. This led to supplies becoming more depleted at the beginning of the situation. Those that did not renew and get their meds, will be the first to suffer the consequences of doing without. Even so, everyone that is on meds will eventually feel the impact.

Of course, there are also those that are on prescription medications that are only allowed a 30 day supply at a time. This is how it works with some drugs that are prescribed for mental health or pain. You also have to go to an actual pharmacy to get these meds. They won’t ship you major painkillers or drugs like Adderall or Ritalin for ADHD.

Some medications you cannot quit suddenly without some potentially serious or fatal consequences. Consider how some people that rely on mental health medications are going to do if they suddenly have to quit. In the USA we have a pretty significant population on psychiatric medications.

I wrote an article quite a while back on what might happen “When The Meds Run Out.”

Medical Supplies

From face masks to gloves to major medical equipment, China is the main manufacturer. Considering that we are dealing with an epidemic or pandemic depending on what you believe, now is a heck of a time to be facing shortages of medical supplies.

Illicit Drug Supply Chain

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Some of you may have read the story about the shipping container boat owned by J.P. Morgan that was found with 20 tons of cocaine aboard with an estimated street value of $1.3 billion. A lot of illegal drugs are smuggled in shipping containers that have other goods in them. Who knows how many days worth of supply is in the USA but regardless, at some point that amount is going to dwindle which will at first lead to higher prices for users. Some areas may lack any as dealers divert supplies to those that can pay more. At some point, there just may simply not be any of certain drugs across a big are.

The increased cost alone will lead to more stealing and other crimes committed out of desperation to get the substance the user relies on. Some drugs incapacitate those in withdrawal while others don’t so much thus you have people that are desperate and capable of some pretty awful things.


Some of the larger appliances are still made domestically but that doesn’t mean that they don’t rely on components manufactured in foreign countries. Usually, this country is China. Almost all small appliances are made in China from toasters ovens to coffee pots and blenders. Any device, even if you buy a better than average brand, has a working life.

At some point, what appliances and parts that are already in the country or at least in a nearby one, will start to dwindle. It is hard to say when this will happen because there are many factors at play. Maybe we have enough to get by until manufacturing starts up in US or else ware but I kind of doubt it.

When your coffee pot breaks if may be a little harder to find a replacement that is anywhere near the price point you are used to paying. Even the small appliances that were considered cheaply made, will be resold for a much higher cost to those that want the convenience that they bring to their lives.


A lot of the power and hand tools we use every day are made in China or Japan. As a farmer and someone that built their house with their husband, I put a lot of value in tools. During hard times a lot of us may have to do more tasks on our own. Hopefully, our tools hold out for a while. There are some good hand tools made in the USA but like so many things, the supply is far lower than the demand.

Auto and Machine Parts

A lot of auto manufacturers have decreased or stopped production because they cannot get the materials and components they need to produce vehicles or the parts needed to repair existing ones. How many of us have bought an aftermarket part for a car or small machine? Almost all the aftermarket generic parts that are affordable are made in China.

Just about everything that the average person uses to maintain and run their household.

I could list many more things that are in your home that may be harder to get. Sheets for your bed, towels, and blankets are just a few of the other items that are often made in China or India. Although India is not reporting a ton of cases yet, I suspect that the numbers are much greater and considering the population density, the potential for a major outbreak is extraordinary.

More expensive goods due to a lack of low labor costs. Manufacturing will occur closer to home.

We are used to being able to get a lot things at a low cost. This is not going to be as common. People will not work and are not able to work for the wages that they will in China, Vietnam, or Cambodia.

It will take a long time to get any production going domestically or in an alternative foreign location. There are many components that go into even basic electronics and appliances. Metals, small parts, etc, are something we used to take for granted as always being there.

Price gouging is already happening. Demand is much higher for some items like N-95 masks. Price gouging and people reselling items on eBay for extremely high prices is something we are likely to see more and more of.

Resentment and blame towards fellow consumers

There are already people that are blaming fellow shoppers for them not being able to get items that they want. One person was angry because they could not find something for their baby and blamed people for stocking up. They called them selfish. Another man couldn’t put in his weekly order for 2 loaves of bread and was livid about it.

When other more major shortages start to be apparent, the blaming will get worse, with many people in denial that the real cause is the lack of manufacturing and shipping.

Politicization and the blame game is already happening and will continue to escalate.

It really annoys me when important issues that affect us all get politicized. People from all across the political spectrum are already blaming this political party or this person. I am critical of the CDC but that is an agency that is supposed to work for all of us regardless of political leanings. I will not get caught up in the political blame game because it does nothing to help us get through this horrible virus that as all over the world. As far as I am concerned governments need to put aside some of the party politics and concentrate on the health crisis at hand.

Racism and xenophobia will surface more often towards some groups.

This is already happening all over the world. Those that kept their feelings to themselves are feeling that now is the time to express them. There are also some that have switched to this way of thinking. While checking in on a new friend in Italy I met in a preparedness group on Facebook, he told me of a man verbally abusing a Chinese lady in the street by loudly yelling that “All the s*** eaters need to go back home”. This was more than a week ago and at the very beginning of the quarantines in Italy and occurred in a town that was not yet under mandatory quarantine.

It will be harder to shelter children from the woes of the world.

Kids are going to ask a lot of questions. While causing them to panic and freak out is not the answer, it is going to be a lot harder to hide what is going on over a period of time. Some parents have decided to approach it from encouraging more hand washing and telling children and teens to avoid people that are coughing or showing signs of illness. I think that a degree of honesty is best myself but I realize that how you raise your child is something that is ultimately a personal decision.

There may be a time when kids and teens ask some other really tough questions that you will need to address and it will be practically impossible to shield them from. What if something awful like a friend or family member gets sick, is hospitalized, or even dies? Kids may also have some questions about the xenophobia and racism that could pop up.

Events that involve large groups will be rarer and many that are planned will be canceled.

Sometimes I am sitting here typing and an ad will come on Pandora from an artist telling me to catch them on tour. Now when I hear that I think about how many of those big concerts and sporting events are going to be canceled. In some cases when they are not canceled, the musicians or players will either be greeted by a nearly empty or empty venue. In Italy, soccer teams are playing without the fans due to the possibility of spread.

Children and teens that are used to the team spirit and camaraderie that comes from participating in organized sports may have to face losing that part of their life.

The travel industry will crash

Travel agents and online booking sites are facing record-breaking numbers of cancellations. This means at least a partial refund of fees that were already paid.

Anyone that works at hotels, for airlines or any industry that caters to travelers is going to be affected. The ripple effect is going to be very noticeable. I would not be surprised to see some hotels and motels shut down and never open again. Bankruptcies in the travel industry are very likely to accelerate greatly over the next year.

The cruise ship industry, in particular, is being hit hard and with good reason considering the disaster of the Diamond Princess and other cruise ships.

People will become more isolated. Social distancing will be the rule for many.

Doing what you can to distance yourself from others is one of the things that you have some control over. While staying at home is not an option for many due to their jobs or school, avoiding other social situations, shopping online, or visiting stores at very low volume times are all possible. Many people have been doing this for quite some time.

Restaurants, coffee shops, and bars are going to face some tough times.

Some of the first social distancing will be people avoiding restaurants and drinking establishments. This is one of the easiest things for people to do to reduce exposure to others. At the moment, staying at home and popping a frozen pizza in the oven makes sense to some. Going out and socializing is something people like to do but you can have a beer at home for less money and avoid exposure. There are a lot of people employed in the restaurant and bar industry. Many of these hard-working people rely on tipping that is just not going to be there.

The lack of cargo to ship will have a significant effect on the shipping and transport industries.

This is another industry that employs a lot of people. From the local UPS and FedEx drivers to the port and cargo ship workers. While at the time a lot of people are utilizing mail order, as time goes on and there are less goods to ship, the volume will drop. Volume has already dropped dramatically at ports on the western and eastern seaboards of the United States. Where shipping containers were once stacked as high as buildings, there is empty space and nothing coming in.
This video shows what some of the ports look like at this time. It was taken by a lady that drives container trucks to and from the port.

Truck drivers that service ports, as well as those responsible for moving cargo across the country, will likely feel the effects of fewer goods to distribute.

Lack of demand for oil will cause the barrel price to crash.

The oil markets are already experiencing the effects of less demand. When this continues, the price will drop a lot. Of course, if some oil production shuts down as a result, the price may go back up to some degree. Regardless there are going to be some dips and volatility in the oil market.

Families will either learn to get along or be miserable. Some will simply fall apart because they cannot cope with all that time together.

There will be more homeschooled children and teens in the future.

Some school districts are already creating plans for delivering learning materials online. Other people are thinking about homeschooling as an option. I was homeschooled from 7th-12th grade. It was the best option for me. Although I was doing very well in school, it was boring and the social aspects were not something I enjoyed. I had to spend 90 minutes of my life on a bus because the nearest junior high was 10 miles away and that took 45 minutes each way.

While parents may have to go to work, I do have to say that some responsible teens may be able to handle staying at home and completing their studies even if you are not there. I was pretty much self-taught through junior high through graduation.

If you find yourself working from home and feel that you should eliminate the risk of exposure via schools, then homeschooling is something to consider. Many kids find that they enjoy it and have more time to do other things like learn skills or even help out around the house. A lot of time is wasted within the public school system.


Times are not going to be easy. We are going to be facing some major disruptions to our way of life in the future. Let’s hope that a cure and better treatment becomes available soon. Even if things dramatically improve, the global supply chain is going to be forever changed.

I wish the best for you and your family during this trying time.

Best wishes,
Samantha Biggers

To keep up to date on coronavirus I encourage you to subscribe to the Peak Prosperity Youtube Channel. Chris does a fantastic job covering the latest news that you should know about COVID-19. He has been producing a daily video covering COVID-19 since the epidemic started.

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18 Responses to “The Potential Economic and Societal Impacts of COVID-19”

  1. You wrote: “There will be food as long as there are people to work on the farms.” Really? Where do you think seeds are grown? Seeds are labor intensive and tend to be grown where labor costs are low. China is a major seed producer. You can’t grow food if you can’t get seeds. The last time I bought a packet of tomato seeds (6-7 years ago), they were clearly marked as being grown in China, packaged in Canada, shipped to a seed distributor in New York…and then finally shipped to me on the west coast. It can’t be a much better system for farmers. Only they are more likely to grow GMO crops. You can’t save GMO seeds, they need to be purchased each year. Who knows where they are grown? Don’t panic! I’m not suggesting that we are going to starve, just understand that our food supply is just as precarious as all other products and supply lines.

    • “There will be food as long as there are people to work on the farms” that is not a complete thought.

      Food in the field is not food on the table. The seeds come from somewhere and someone has to pay for them. They have to be planted (machines and diesel fuel). Bugs and plant disease have to be suppressed (fertilizer and various sprays). Mature crops have to be harvested (harvesting machines, diesel for the machines, trucks to transport and storage for harvested crops). Transported (trains and trucks, diesel for the trains and trucks, people to drive). Processed and packaged (think slaughterhouses, milk processors, places to make corn flakes, packaging, and people to do the work). Distributed to grocery stores (more trucks). And then people have to go to the store and pay for the goods (they had to earn the money), take them home and use energy to prepare the meal.

      It is a big system. In the short term, some people have money, they can pay some of the money needed to keep the system going. Some other people are not getting paid so our country gives them money to replace the income they aren’t getting and so they can pay to keep the system going. But we can’t stop planting, fertilizing, harvesting, processing, distributing, and selling.

  2. You stated: “When other more major shortages start to be apparent, the blaming will get worse, with many people in denial that the real cause is the lack of manufacturing and shipping.”

    I think the “blame” / “real cause” for any kind of shortage needed by the consumer rests EXCLUSIVELY on the consumer’s shoulders. Yes. I said it. I mean it. The consumer SHOULD have prepped. End of story. For years now, we’ve been hearing from the government and just about anyone else with an ounce of common sense that people NEED to prepare for the “coming emergency.” What has taken them so long? Oh. I see. Even with overwhelming evidence, they’ve been asleep all this time, and are JUST NOW waking up to reality??? It is extremely hard to have any sympathy…ever since the Year 2000 crisis (that never materialized) they’ve fallen back into apathy?

    • most people I know live day to day with no thought for tomorrow. im sorry, but I have no pity on them. I just don’t. im sure im wrong about being that way

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