“Long Social Covid”: Mired in Pessimism

Ian Mitroff
3 min readMay 15, 2024

I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. You can “follow” me to never miss an article.

With no intended disrespect to those suffering from the Medical condition known as “Long Covid”, there’s another form that deserves calling out. I call it “Long Social Covid”.

In an Op-Ed, David Wallace-Wells summed it up as follows[i].

“American G.D.P. is booming, unemployment is near historic lows and inflation increasingly appears to be under control, such that even notorious inflation scolds have declared that a once improbable economic ‘soft landing’ is imminent. But if every conventional top-line measure of the health of the economy is strong, why are so many Americans so despondent about the state of the country and its future, with poll after poll showing deep dissatisfaction with the state of the economy?”

While there’re certainly many causes for our despondency, one factor stands out. In short, we’re still suffering from the aftereffects of Covid. In and of itself, a good Economy is not enough to undo the horrific effects of a deadly disease that resulted in immense Social Disorder and over a Million Deaths.

Sadly, we’ve still not come to grips with the number and variety of ill-begotten consequences and horrendous effects that resulted from Covid. As I’ve said repeatedly, until they’re acknowledged and dealt with fully, our planning and preparation for future Pandemics will be severely hampered leaving us vulnerable to future negative consequences.

Let me therefore list and comment briefly on the multitudinous ill-effects. First, due to people sheltering in place and fearful of leaving the safety and sanctity of their homes, Economic activity was sharply curtailed. Due to children being unable to attend School, Math and Reading scores plummeted. In addition, Social-Emotional Learning took a big hit as well. Because they were essentially places of confinement and with numerous people in frequent and close contact, Nursing Homes became uncontrolled breeding grounds for Covid. Because they were under immense pressure, Doctors and Nurses left their professions in record numbers. So did Teachers and other Public Servants. In largely Conservative Red States, people rebelled and pushed back against the wearing of masks, practicing social distancing, and the closing of Schools and Businesses, resulting in substantially more deaths than in Blue States. In this way, the immense Political Polarization we’ve experienced only helped further the spread of the disease.

One of the worst factors was and still is all of the Fallacious Arguments that people concocted for not getting Vaccinated against Covid and not taking Boosters as new variants continually appeared. The forces of Unreason and Anti-Science took sway in far too many segments of the population.

As Mr. Wallace-Wells notes, America’s gloominess isn’t all that unusual. What is that compared to other countries, our Economy is “buoyant”. Has the severe Polarization not only effected the spread of the disease, but even more basic, our basic feelings about the well-being of the country?

Finally, as Mr. Wallace-Wells notes, the World as a whole is in a pretty gloomy place.

[i] David Wallace-Wells, “It’s No Surprise That America Is Pessimistic, The New York Times, Sunday, December 10, 2023, P SR 9.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022

Photo by Zoe on Unsplash

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