Daily US Times: According to an analysis conducted by the national public health group Well Being Trust, as many as 75,000 Americans could die because of virus despair- drug or alcohol misuse and suicide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The group is sounding the alarm that the growing economic downturns unemployment crisis and stress caused by isolation and lack of a definitive end date for the pandemic could significantly increase so-called “deaths of despair” unless federal, state and local authorities take action.
Well Being Trust’s chief strategy officer Dr. Benjamin F. Miller told: “Unless we get comprehensive federal, state, and local resources behind improving access to high quality mental health treatments and community supports, I worry we’re likely to see things get far worse when it comes to substance misuse and suicide.”
Miller emphasized the data is just a projection, and if proper actions are taken, the number of deaths could change.
He says: “We can change the numbers — the deaths have not happened yet. However, it is on us to take action now.”
Based on data from past years, the Well Being trust released maps showing state and county level projects of these types of deaths due to Covid-19’s impact on isolation, uncertainty and unemployment.
The group is calling for a robust approach from federal, state and local officials and agencies to ensure those who lose their jobs because of the pandemic can find work.
According to the Well Being Trust, “Unemployment during the Great Recession was associated with an increase in suicide deaths and drug overdose deaths.”
During the 2008 recession, for instance, deaths from both suicide and drug overdoses rose along with unemployment. According to the group’s data, unemployment went from 4.6% in 2007 to a peak of 10% in October 2009 and declined steadily reaching 3.5% in early 2010.
Kevin Hassett, White House economic adviser, told on Tuesday that he expects the US unemployment rate was above 16% in April.
He said: “My guess right now is it’s going to be north of 16%, maybe as high as 20%. We’re looking at probably the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression.”
It is possible that coronavirus may make some new job opportunities available like for instance, states need people to help with contact tracing and other health needs. And that presents an opportunity to re-employ those in need.
The group says in the report that service can be a powerful antidote to isolation and despair. Changes also must be made to mental health and medical care to ensure that those who need care can get it, the group says.
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