While we continue to respond to the effects of COVID-19, one thing the pandemic has brought to light is the availability – or lack thereof – of internet access in rural and remote parts of our country. Now that we’re relying on connectivity to study, work, visit the doctor virtually, or catch up with family and friends, both the public and private sectors are focusing on making the internet available to everyone.
As a matter of fact, politicians now recognize that people cannot participate in this economy without access to the internet. March’s $2 trillion CARES Act included funds for the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to create loans for rural broadband service.
Our lives are forever changed, whether we wanted a change or not. Here are a few ways the internet is playing our role in our pandemic lives:
- Studying from home – of the approximately 50 million students who were looking at home due to school closings, more than 9 million didn’t have internet access at home. The lack of internet is an education opportunity gap.
- Working from home – nearly one-third of the U.S. workforce, and half of all “information workers” are able to work from home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And surprise, surprise… a whopping 98% of people, according to the Census Bureau’s survey, would like to have the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers.
- Telehealth – 71% of patients had considered telemedicine, and half had experienced a virtual appointment during the early months of the COVID-19 spread across the U.S., according to doctor.com. Plus, 83% of patients expect to use virtual appointments after the pandemic passes.
Zoom – Zoom’s number of customers with more than 10 employees has grown 354 percent during the first two quarters of the year. Daily participants jumped from 10 million to more than 200 million in three months. This includes business meetings, as well as personal meetings. And don’t forget those online workouts!