Devastation from government ordered shutdown of the economy – 2 of 3

What the California economy might look like by the time it is allowed to reopen. Photo of abandoned farm in North Dakota by James Ulvog.

This is the second in a series of posts describing the damage caused by shutting down the economy. See previous post for economic damage.

Damage to health across a society

8/18/20 – British Office for National Statistics – Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: June 2020

Study by the British organization compared data from July 2019 to June 2020.

They found 19.2% of adults were experiencing depression in June 2020 compared to 9.7% in July 2019. That is a doubling as a result of the pandemic.

Severity of the rise can be seen by 6.2% of the population that had ongoing depression, 12.9% developed moderate to severe depression during the pandemic, and 3.5% some improvement during that time.

Is there any doubt that the overwhelming portion of that increase is due to the isolation and economic damage caused by the government ordered shutdowns?

An interesting exercise is to put that data into table as follows:

  •      9.7% – percent of adults with moderate to severe depression in July 2019
  •    -3.5% – percent of adults who improved in the last year
  • +12.9% – percent of adults who developed moderate to severe depression in the last year
  • =19 2% – percent of adults with moderate to severe depression in June 2020

Article indicated there has been a disproportionate impact on people between ages of 16 and 39 and a disproportionate impact on women.

I will make a very easy guess that the statistics for the United States are probably something roughly in the range of what is found in the above study for England.

8/25/20 – Foundation for Economic Education – 4 Life-Threatening Unintended Consequences of the Lockdowns

Some people, me included, would suggest that these threats to life of many people are not unintended consequence of shutting down the economy but are instead reasonably foreseeable consequences. Aside from that issue aritcle points out there are severe health impacts of closing the economy.

Article points out:

1) Massive Spikes in Suicide Rates and Mental Health Crises

CDC reports that 1 out of every 4 young folks, that’s 25%, have experienced suicidal thoughts since the shutdown started. That’s in contrast to 6% in 2008. They indicate 40%of people responding to a survey report mental health distress. Social isolation easily causes distress; those stats quantify the impact.

2) Uptick in Drug Overdoses and Substance Abuse

Published reports indicate a pro showed the largest increase in monthly opioid overdoses in the District of Columbia in the last five years. Another report indicates nationwide overdoses of increased 18%.

Social isolation is a key factor that can trigger substance abuse.

3) Economic Devastation Leads to Hunger

It is no surprise that losing work makes it more difficult to buy food. Multiple reports indicate increasing numbers of people report not having enough to eat sometime within the last week. Article says that many reports, and I have seen some of them too, indicating there is a dramatic increase in the demand for free food.

4) Surge in Domestic Violence Under COVID-19 Lockdowns

Being stuck at home and cut off from any outside support systems is leading to increases in domestic violence. One study reported a particular hospital logged significant increase in injuries that are consistent with domestic violence. Another report shows several US cities have increased number of domestic violence calls.

5/21/20 – Washington Examiner – California doctors say they’ve seen more deaths from suicide than coronavirus since lockdowns – A trauma doctor at a hospital in Walnut Creek, California, says the hospital has

“… seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”

A trauma nurse at the hospital has seen a big increase in intentional self-harm and the hospital has not been able to save as many of those patients as would usually be the case.

During the third week in March, Knox County Tennessee had nine suspected suicides during a 48 hour period. That contrasts with six deaths from coronavirus up to that date in the entire state.

A county official had following observation:

“The truth is: a sick economy produces sick people.”

8/11/20 – Healthline – Why the Heart Attack Death Rate Has Doubled During COVID-19 Researchers looking at hospital admissions in six states conclude the death rate from heart attacks during the pandemic is more than double what it was in the two prior years.

Their study noticed a drop in hospitalizations starting 2/23/20, which was before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. Hospitalizations increase starting about 3/29/20 but those were younger patients with shorter hospitalizations, and more likely to recover and patience in the two prior years.

Most likely explanation is people stayed away from the hospital because of fear. After the pandemic started people encouraged to stay away from the hospital, if not in fact prohibited by all nonessential procedures having been canceled.

8/27/20 – Daily Mail – Number of heart attacks diagnosed fell by 40% during the COVID-19 pandemic because patients weren’t going to hospital over fears they may catch the virus, study claims – Analysis at two of the National Health Service facilities showed diagnosis of heart attacks fell by 40% and hospitalizations fell by 50% during the lockdown. This isn’t because people magically stopped having heart troubles during the pandemic, but is because people didn’t go to the hospital because of fear. They’re afraid of catching coronavirus at the hospital or the facilities to be overloaded.

The second half of the lockdown people just are going to the hospital for heart distress but visitors still off 33% from the pre-pandemic level.

Article points out there is going to be a backlog of treatment for many illnesses because of people who avoided treatment during the lockdown.

Article says a separate study showed admissions in the United States for stroke fell by about one third during the lockdown. I doubt people stopped having strokes. They just stayed home. That means the stroke symptoms will probably be permanent with minor hope of recovery and the symptoms will be more serious than if medical care had been available.

Next post ponders the muddle of shutdowns.

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