It has almost been a year in Covid

It has almost been a year in Covid

Anette Hernandez Diaz, Staff Writer

The coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created both a public health crisis and an economic crisis in the United States. The pandemic has disrupted lives, pushed the hospital system to its capacity, and created a global economic decline.

As of September 15, 2020 there have been more than 6.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 195,000 deaths in the United States. To put these numbers into context, the pandemic has now claimed more than three times the American lives that were lost in the Vietnam War. The economic crisis is unequaled in its scale: the pandemic has created a demand shock, a supply shock, and a financial shock all at once.

The COVID-19 outbreak affects all segments of the population and is particularly detrimental to members of those social groups in the most vulnerable situations, and continues to affect populations, including people living in poverty situations, older persons, persons with disabilities, youth, and indigenous peoples. Early evidence indicates that the health and economic impacts of the virus are being borne disproportionately by poor people. For example, homeless people, because they may be unable to safely shelter in place, are highly exposed to the danger of the virus. People without access to running water, refugees, migrants, or displaced persons also stand to suffer disproportionately both from the pandemic and its aftermath; whether due to limited movement, fewer employment opportunities, or increased xenophobia. If not properly addressed through policy the social crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic may also increase inequality, exclusion, discrimination and global unemployment in the medium and long term. Comprehensively, social protection systems, when in place, play a much durable role in protecting workers and in reducing the common occurrence of poverty, since they act as automatic stabilizers. That is, they provide basic income security at all times, thereby enhancing people’s capacity to manage and overcome shocks.

The negative impact of COVID-19 on mental health has been immediate, and the pandemic is certain to have long-term effects in every country it has touched. These ill effects have been increased by uncertainty associated with the spread of the disease, information and misinformation overload, and feelings of isolation created by social distancing. An International Health Policy survey found that since the start of the outbreak, one-third of U.S. adults experienced stress, anxiety, or great sadness that was difficult to cope with by themselves. This is a significantly higher proportion than in other countries, where no more than one-quarter of adults reported the same. The survey research shows that even prior to the pandemic, Americans were already among the most likely to experience emotional distress. It seems that in several countries the pandemic has contributed to higher rates of emotional distress compared to before the outbreak.