The hidden harm fostered by COVID-19By Veita Bland, M.D. / December 11, 2020
COVID-19 presents its own new set of rules. As we struggle to find a sense of normalcy in these difficult times, we realize that COVID-19 has unfortunately changed the landscape that we felt we knew so well.
COVID-19 has changed the nomenclature. We speak excessively about the numbers of people that have been hospitalized, infected, lost jobs, the percentage of people infected in a county, the percentage of ICU beds remaining or the number of school children remotely learning. Who would have imagined we would be using such nomenclature in our everyday language?
As we realize that 284,00 Americans have lost their lives and bolster ourselves to try to absorb the possible numbers yet to come, let us stop and look at some of the hidden harm fostered by COVID-19.
In a study done at UNC Chapel Hill, researchers looked at how the life changes brought on by COVID-19 affect the general health of the people involved. When people lose their livelihoods or their way of existing has drastically changed, there are acute medical problems that occur. The quality of one’s health suffers; the loss of a place to live results in untold medical and emotional problems.
The emotional uncertainty of where one will call home results in profound loss of stability. Where will you sleep? Where will you bathe? If there are medical problems, how do you make sure you are able to take care of yourself? How can you make sure your diet is nutritious for the diabetic or the person with hypertension or renal disease? How do you get the proper rest? How do you care for your children? How do you make sure you are taking your medications on a regular schedule? How do you prepare yourself to get a job? How do you fend off the elements of the weather with no roof over your head?
The emotional toll on a person who has had a radical change in life status from living independently to possibly now living with friends or family is enormous. The fact that the living situation now may be crowded may increase the chances of contracting COVID-19. The loss of independence to the psyche is immense. The loss of stability on a child in that situation can be profound. We are seeing increased numbers of mental health problems in those affected. The rates of anxiety and depression exacerbate any previous mental health issues.
We are also noting in this country and in other countries in the world an increase in the number of suicides in people racked by these hurts.
COVID-19 causes harm in so many different ways. The fact that the vaccines are now on their way does bring us hope but the harms to the medical system left behind by COVID-19 will be with us for years to come. The harms from the medical problems in those infected will be life long in so many cases.
I again am dumbfounded by the fact so many are talking of not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The harm from COVID-19 will thus continue. How do we inform and educate on the importance of caring for yourself and those you love by getting your immunizations? The dye has been cast for the holidays upon us but your actions will cast the dye for the holidays to come.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.