DS's college has been using the 3D printers available in different departments to make masks for local hospitals. Faculty and students are working together on it and producing about 50 masks/day. I think we'll see some interesting solutions springing up like that one.
While I can appreciate the concern for mental health challenges and the overall burden an economic shutdown places on the average person, I'm a little skeptical of the dire predictions of what will happen to society in a prolonged shutdown.
First, there is always the possibility that one can recover from any financial, educational, or work-related setback. There is no recovering from death, whether your own or that of someone you care about. IMO, it's important to distinguish between fatal and non-fatal risks (listen to El-Erian discuss 'least catastrophical mistakes'
Second, even with the talk of increased suicides, I don't think the lessons of the 08-09 financial crash apply. I see this situation as more akin to a war effort than a financial crisis. It's a moment of solidarity with opportunities for people to rise to the occasion. That was not true in 08-09. If you've read Tribe, you know that people are mentally healthier when they feel a part of something, whether the 'something' is good or bad. I believe that applies here.
Third, during the financial crash and its aftermath, I think the negativity came from people feeling forgotten or displaced. They felt invisible. The popularity of Sanders and Trump shows how many people felt the system had failed them. Or worse, ignored them. This time, everyone is being asked to do their part — everyone’s participation matters. People are also finding ways to help, both big and small. The quarantine has forced people into acting locally because it’s all they can do. People are (re)connecting with their neighbors and communities.
Fourth, young people will have a shared experience to unify them. I know that younger people are particularly hard hit if they are missing out of graduations, job opportunities, rites of passage, sports seasons that may have produced college scholarships, etc. But they are *all* missing out on those things. That’s what is different here. It’s a unifying event, not one with winners and losers. After 08-09, some missed out while others got lucky, intensifying income disparity. This time, no one is safe from the virus. I think that fact, combined with the Tribe-like feelings and rediscovery of community, will help younger folks weather this storm much better than Millennials did during the financial crisis. ('pandemmials'?)
I’m not trying to sugar coat the devastating consequences that may come from a prolonged shutdown. I’m only pointing out that there may be benefits as well, and those might offset some consequences and make people more resilient overall. To put it another way, things will get painful, but possibly in a strengthening kind of way instead of a debilitating one.