CULTURE Americans see COVID-19 reshaping way of life


Americans see COVID-19 reshaping way of life


01:58, May 18, 2020

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DS30, hydrogen fuel cell drone, delivering facial masks (Photo: AP)

WASHINGTON, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Marlena, who teaches English at a university in Washington, D.C., has recently moved her classes online as a result of a stay-at-home order aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"That might be the future of college, at least for a while," Marlena told Xinhua.

Indeed, COVID-19 has turned American life on its head, and the way the United States does business, educates its youth and eats is likely to see many changes, as well as innovations.

Some will be temporary, but others may be permanent.

Many schools are now holding classes online. Going forward, schools may hold some classes in person and others virtually, in an effort to ensure social distancing.

That may not be a huge undertaking, as there are already many universities that host all of their classes online -- a trend that has been happening for over a decade.

A D.C.-area high school teacher, who only identified himself as Dan, told Xinhua that he has been able to teach from home via online classrooms, but suspects many of his students are rolling out of bed at noon.

"Some of them look like they're just getting out of bed, they need to shave and comb their hair," Dan said, adding that such habits are bad for students' mental and physical health, not to mention their energy levels.

Marlena, however, said online classes may help university students focus better, as they will avoid distractions such as partying, staying out late and dating.

The virus is also leading to logistics innovations. April saw retail sales down a record 16.4 percent amid the virus lockdown. But at the same time, online shopping is at a high point, with Amazon backed up with a surge of orders.

If there is any silver lining, it is that the trend is sparking innovation.

Some companies are testing drone deliveries, as people want to avoid person-to-person contact with workers delivering packages to their doors.

One company, Dive Delivery, told local media that it will launch a trial service for residents of two counties in the state of California. Drones would deliver lightweight packages, such as face masks, directly to subscribers' backyards.

COVID-19 is also accelerating some trends in corporate America, mainly working from home, which has allowed firms to cut expenses on office space, cleaning services and electricity.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that tech workers in notoriously expensive Silicon Valley are already considering moving to rural states where rent is cheap, as they can maintain their jobs by working from home.

Food is another area the virus is impacting.

Prices of meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose 4.3 percent in April -- the biggest spike in decades. That is stretching budgets of millions of Americans who have lost their jobs amid the lockdown.

National burger chain Wendy's has seen some supply disruptions, but took out a full-page New York Times ad to reassure customers that "some menu items may be in short supply from time to time at some restaurants, (but) we continue to supply fresh beef to all of our restaurants."

Still, worries about meat supply could speed up a generational shift toward plant protein. Beyond Meat, which makes plant protein into something that customers say tastes just like meat, has seen its stock skyrocket over the past year.

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