Business owners name concerns over mental health trends as grounds for reopening
Penn Valley resident Ken Miller said he knows three people who have committed suicide in the last month alone.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety have been on the rise over the last two decades.
Now many restaurant owners and their employees are arguing the psychological effects caused by social isolation and economic upheaval are reason to abandon state COVID-19 restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Census Bureau has been collecting data on the coronavirus impact throughout the year with the Household Pulse Survey. According to the latest data covering the end of January, 46% of Californians had symptoms of anxiety or depression disorder within the last seven days — the fourth highest rate in the nation.
That’s the highest the state’s rate has been since the survey began last April. The low was 34% in May.
Among Californians age 18-29 the effects have been more prevalent, with 57% having symptoms of anxiety or depression disorder within the last week.
The same pulse survey showed within the last month 12% of Californians needed therapy or counseling in the last four weeks but didn’t receive treatment.
While some business owners claim anecdotally that the significant increase in mental health effects means “the cure is worse than the disease,” the evidence has not borne that out, at least not yet.
The latest suicide figures released by the CDC do not show a significant uptick in suicides in California, though the latest data available is only provisional. Similarly, county level data is too small to see any upward trend, with most months registering as “fewer than 11” or 0 deaths.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 related deaths in California have measured in the thousands per week since December.
According to county Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellermann, moving away from state guidelines now would move the county backwards.
“We need to stick to the guidelines of pharmaceutical prevention, wearing a mask, washing your hands, pay attention to the details,” he said of restriction fatigue.
Kellermann urged residents to have patience, particularly as “supply is the only bottleneck now.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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