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Vulnerability and Inequality during the Pandemic P1502 June 2020

Author: Madeeha Uppal (Send us feedback.)

The pandemic will not only have a large death toll but also put a spotlight on polarized societies.

Abstracts in this Pattern:

As the coronavirus-disease-2019 (covid-19) pandemic sweeps the globe and countries and cities implement various measures to slow the spread of covid-19, the lopsided effects across socioeconomic groups are becoming apparent. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; Paris, France)—an agency of the United Nations (New York, New York)—estimates that 363 million students around the world are facing school and university closures. Many schools are organizing online classrooms and remote-learning arrangements; however, because a significant proportion of students lack home access to computers and the internet and libraries are shut because of lockdowns, some students will fall behind in their schoolwork. The closure of libraries and other communal spaces such as malls also prevent people who lack home air conditioners from using such spaces to stay cool during heat waves—a situation that is especially problematic for residents of low-income urban areas. Summer is approaching in many countries, and the past few years have seen hotter-than-average summers.

Many cities in lockdown because of the covid-19 pandemic are experiencing increases in domestic abuse and violence. In the United States, for example, the number of domestic-violence arrests in Portland, Oregon, was 27% higher between 12 and 23 March 2020 than it was during the same period in 2019. And the number of domestic-violence reports in March 2020 was more than 20% higher than the number of such reports in March 2019 in both Boston, Massachusetts, and Seattle, Washington. Nationwide, shelters and domestic-violence hotlines are also experiencing high demand.

Companies in several sectors are cutting jobs and implementing furloughs because of the covid-19 pandemic, and the employees these conditions affect will likely struggle to pay their bills in the coming months. According to Harvard University's (Cambridge, Massachusetts) Joint Center for Housing Studies, the United States had close to 44 million renter households in 2018, and nearly 50% of renters spent more than 33% of their income on rent. Because of the pandemic's effects on jobs, many people will be unable to pay rent and may face eviction. Financial firms and government officials are looking to impose moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, but the financial effects of delayed mortgage and rent payments will likely outlast the pandemic.