Single people in the U.S. who have been forced to adapt how they approach dating and love because of social distancing are worried. They are worried about their biological clock, about the long-term impacts of a lack of touch and about losing social stability as they face uncertain economic futures. But for most people, it all boils down to one thing: loneliness. “I think that’s the existential fear,” says TIME staff writer Eliana Dockterman, who spoke with a number of single people across the U.S.
Many of those yearning for connection are turning to an obvious choice: video-chat dates, which may be here to stay even once the pandemic is over. “That’s something multiple people mentioned that they will continue going forward with to screen people, because then you’re not wasting an hour meeting up with somebody and there’s absolutely no chemistry,” Dockterman says. This pandemic and the distance it’s created are also making people reassess what they actually value in a potential date, demoting physical attraction in the hierarchy of reasons to consider a romantic prospect, Dockterman says.
Experts worry about the long-term psychological and societal ramifications of the loneliness exacerbated by COVID-19 containment measures; the lack of human touch can affect people in more ways than they might realize. “Touch is the fundamental language of connection,” Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, told TIME reporter Megan McCluskey. “When you think about a parent-child bond or two friends or romantic partners, a lot of the ways in which we connect and trust and collaborate are founded in touch.”
Dockterman says the responses she’s received from readers since her article was published over the weekend fall into two camps: those saying “Oh, I so relate to this,” and those saying, “This is not a real problem.” What’s clear is that even in the midst of a global pandemic, at least some people are thinking about dating, love and loneliness. And it is worth taking seriously, Dockterman says. “Even some of the people I talked to tried to make light of their loneliness or their anxiety and like—they shouldn’t have to.”
Over 1.8 million people in over 180 countries and territories around the world had been infected with COVID-19 as of Sunday evening, and more than 114,000 lives have been lost to due to the illness.
Here is every country with over 20,000 confirmed cases, as of Sunday 8 PM eastern time:
In reaction to plummeting oil prices, OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing countries finalized an agreement Sunday to cut global production by nearly 10 million barrels a day, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country must anticipate “any possible scenarios, including the most difficult and extraordinary,” according to Al Jazeera. That comes after Russia reported its highest number of daily new cases, 2,558, to date. The U.K. is also looking at a challenging next few months. After surpassing 89,000 confirmed cases of COVID—passing China in reported total cases—officials have signaled that the country will likely extend its lockdown into May.
Global data on crime rates suggests the pandemic is keeping would-be criminals at home. Crime levels are dropping in many cities and countries from Chicago to El Salvador to South Africa, the AP reports.
The Situation in the United States
More than 555,000 people in the U.S. had contracted COVID-19, and more than 22,000 died from it as of April 12. Over the weekend, the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. surpassed Italy’s to become the highest in the world.
Some parts of the U.S. may return to normal life earlier than others. Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the economy in parts of the country could see a “rolling reentry” as early as May if public health authorities figure out a reliable way to quickly identify and isolate those infected with COVID-19. But an actual end doesn’t appear to be anytime soon. Fauci said he “can’t guarantee” Americans will be able to make it to the polls for in-person voting on Election Day on Nov. 3.
New York City’s school system—the largest in the country—will shut down for the rest of the academic year, the city’s Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday. But Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly pushed back, saying that school closings would need to be coordinated with districts surrounding the city and that at the end of the day, he has the legal authority to make that decision. Cuomo said Sunday that schools would not be opened one minute “later” or “sooner” than they should be and that “nobody knows what we will be doing in June.” Given the disagreement, it’s unclear how long the city’s schools will, in fact, remain closed.
In some slightly less bleak news, Cuomo has said “the worst is over if we continue to be smart” — although he appeared to waver when asked whether he was confident that the worst really was over. “The worst can be over, and it is over, unless we do something reckless,” he said. “And you can turn those numbers on two or three days of reckless behavior.”
The Supreme Court is having to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic just like everyone else and said Monday that it will hold arguments via teleconference in May for key cases.
Meat-eaters may have to make some changes to their diet as the U.S. inches closer to a meat shortage. The world’s biggest pork producer is shutting a major U.S. plant in South Dakota, which makes up about 4% to 5% of U.S. production, according to the AP.
The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on nursing homes; more than 3,600 COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. have been linked to outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the AP reports.
All numbers are from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and are accurate as of April 12, 8 PM eastern time. To see larger, interactive versions of these maps and charts, click here.