As public officials across the nation and the world take the painful but appropriate actions to slow the spread of COVID-19, many of the pandemic’s costs to society are plain to see.
The most obvious and heartbreaking is, of course, human suffering and the loss of life. There are more than 127,000 confirmed cases globally with 5,000 deaths. In the United States, there were some 1,300 cases and 38 deaths.
In Ohio, five people have been diagnosed with the disease as of Thursday but, fortunately, there had not yet been a death.
All of those numbers are expected to rise dramatically.
"We know that these confirmed numbers are just a small fraction of the individuals who are infected already in the state of Ohio," Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday as he announced the closing of all schools in the state for three weeks beginning Monday and banned all gatherings of more than 100 people.
Even though the vast majority of those who do contract the coronavirus will survive and experience only minor symptoms, about 16 percent will become seriously ill and require medical intervention.
There are obvious financial costs, not only for those who become ill but for shops and restaurants, and their employees, that rely on the public dollars sure to be reduced as people adjust their daily habits.
Nationally, the pandemic has been wreaking havoc on Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones on Thursday to its greatest single-day decline since October 1987. Markets around the world experienced similar precipitous declines.
But we also see the tragedy of the pandemic’s unseen costs in the loss of opportunities and experiences.
Trips have been canceled, long-planned vacations postponed, some probably never to be made up. Because of their close-quartered competition and large crowds, though, sports across the board have been particularly affected.
At the professional level, the NBA suspended its season after a player tested positive for the coronavirus. Major League Baseball canceled the rest of spring training and pushed back Opening Day for at least two weeks.
The NCAA on Thursday made the heretofore almost unimaginable decision to cancel March Madness. Conferences from the Big Ten to the Mid-American Conference canceled league tournaments. The Ohio High School Athletic Association postponed all of its winter sports tournaments.
Players who had perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accomplish individual or team goals may have seen that chance vanish.
Seeded No. 1 in the MAC tournament, the University of Akron men’s basketball team might have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. The Zips’ five seniors will not have another chance to do so.
University of Dayton men’s basketball players, in the midst of a dream 29-2 season and ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, will never know if they could have made an improbable run to a national title.
Some high school senior boys basketball players and local senior wrestlers will never have the opportunity again to win state titles that were in sight just a few days ago.
No, athletes are not experiencing losses as serious as those who face health and financial hardship. But all of them, too, are victims of COVID-19.
— Akron Beacon Journal