There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away, even with a vaccine.

There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away, even with a vaccine.

Source The Washington Post

By Angela Fritz 26 May 2020

There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away, even with a vaccine. Experts say it will likely remain for decades to come, circulating among the world’s population and becoming “endemic” — like measles, HIV and chickenpox. “This virus is here to stay,” said one biologist. “The question is, how do we live with it safely?” Experts in epidemiology, disaster planning and vaccine development say embracing that reality is crucial to the next phase of America’s pandemic response.Read how they think life could change in a world where this coronavirus is here to stay.

A third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression, which is a huge jump from before the pandemic. Rates of anxiety and depression were far higher among younger adults, women and the poor, which suggests the decline in mental health could be more about financial struggle than the virus itself. Even before the pandemic, mental health care in the U.S. was already severely underfunded, but almost none of the emergency coronavirus funds Congress approved have gone toward mental health programs and clinics.

At the beginning of 2019, millennials became the largest generation in this nation’s full-time workforce. But the coronavirus crisis walloped them. Even without the present crisis, the average millennial has experienced slower economic growth than any other generation in U.S. history, and they will bear the economic scars the rest of their lives, in the form of lower earnings, lower wealth and delayed milestones, such as homeownership.

A growing number of Republicans are pushing back against President Trump’s suggestion that wearing masks is a sign of personal weakness. The support for masks comes as Trump continues to mock those who wear them, including his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Trump dismissed a mask-wearing reporter as being “politically correct” on Tuesday. At the same time, Biden called Trump a “fool” for mocking their use. (From our fashion critic: Now a single accessory can define the presidency.)

Mexico’s health-care system has been strained by the outbreak, and now small community hospitals in Southern California are being flooded with American citizens or residents who cross the border to get treatment. They are retirees and dual citizens, Americans working in Mexico or visiting family there. Approximately half of the coronavirus patients in several California border hospitals, which are some of the most under-funded in the state, are recent arrivals from Mexico. 

Public schools in the U.S. face a fall with increasing costs and a lot less funding. Students who fell behind this spring will require extra help; children who have lost family or suffered trauma will need counselors; new costly procedures will be needed to prevent the virus from spreading among kids like wildfire. As schools make plans to keep students safe and on-track, their funding is being slashed.

Your questions, answered

“As we reopen, do we risk seeing an uptick in other diseases or infections, such as colds and flus, since we have not been exposed to the viruses and bacteria of other people for several months while we social distanced?” —Steven in Michigan

It’s still unknown whether we’ll see an increase above normal levels for illnesses like colds and flu, but since those both tend to be fall and winter illnesses, we likely won’t see big outbreaks heading into the summer months. As states reopen, the spread of coronavirus remains our biggest problem.  

Even though physicians haven’t sounded any alarms about cold or flu, they have raised significant concerns about other non-coronavirus issues: people who have been ill but too afraid to seek care, the spike in depression and anxiety and the decline in child vaccines.

As The Post has reported, many doctors believe the pandemic has produced a silent sub-epidemic of people who need care but are too afraid to get it. They include people with inflamed appendixes, infected gall bladders and bowel obstructions, and more ominously, chest pains and stroke symptoms.

“Everybody is frightened to come to the ER,” Mount Sinai cardiovascular surgeon John Puskas said.

As I mentioned at the top of this newsletter, a third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression, which is an alarming sign of the psychological toll of the pandemic and a huge jump from before coronavirus. Studies have also shown that poor mental health and isolation can take a toll on your immune system.

And last week, the CDC reported that children are far less likely to be getting their vaccinations right now, because parents aren’t taking them to their regular well-child appointments. Researchers took stock of the number of kids being vaccinated in Michigan, and found that the decline was across all ages.

The study pointed out that if the measles vaccination rate declines below 90 to 95 percent of the population (the level needed to establish herd immunity), an outbreak can occur. 

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