Since COVID-19 stopped our world in its tracks in early 2020, the virus has done so much more than sicken millions and kill hundreds of thousands. A necessary retreat into self-quarantine for much of the United States has resulted in a litany of social and economic issues the likes of which our country has never seen.
A frenzied pivot to online learning for schools has further laid bare inequities in technological access, nutrition and childcare, and in access to high-quality teaching and curricula — all of which threaten the well-being and development of our nation’s children. While some businesses have been able to continue their operations remotely, many companies in service-oriented industries, such as travel and hospitality, personal care and retail, have been forced to shutter. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the resulting furloughs and layoffs caused the national unemployment rate to skyrocket from 4.4% in March 2020 to 14.7% in April 2020. It remained above 10% through July, before falling to 8.4% in August, with millions of Americans still out of work.
At the center of it all, an overwhelmed and underresourced healthcare system is struggling to care for patients who are battling a disease for which there is no cure.
Without a clear timeline for a vaccine, so many of us are feeling powerless, sitting in uncomfortable uncertainty as to when a sense of normalcy will be restored. We crave answers — or at the very least, hope.
During these challenging times, the comforting words of beloved children’s television host Fred Rogers have circulated throughout social media and the internet: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” This 1980s quote has stood the test of time.
In 2020, during a global pandemic, helpers abound — including many Stevens alumni.
When The Indicator issued a call for COVID-19 stories on social media, responses rolled in from alumni across the country and around the world. Each submission demonstrated the unique ways our graduates have leveraged their industry knowledge, technical expertise, and above all, compassion, to make a difference during the pandemic. Here, we share a selection of these stories in recognition of Stevens helpers everywhere.