Tags: Coronavirus | Anxiety | Depression | china | unemployment | recovery

Economic Shutdown Jeopardizes Health of All Americans

economic impact of coronavirus


By Tuesday, 21 April 2020 01:35 PM Current | Bio | Archive

We’re in a knock-down, drag-out fight with an invisible enemy.

Our nemesis — coronavirus —  has hit hard claiming more than 40,000 American lives, so far. Every single one of those lives mattered, but it’s the gut punch to our economy plunging people into economic ruin that will ultimately claim more lives than the virus.

Drastic Measures Lead to Dire Economic Consequences

When news of a novel coronavirus originating in China first broke, we understood it was very contagious and there was no vaccine for it. Concerns were heightened and legitimately so.

But questions were asked and now we know that the original data from China was wrong.

What happened?

How did we go from legitimate concerns over a virus to now more than 22 million people who’ve filed for unemployment, in a span of roughly 6 weeks? Dire economic predictions are warning unemployment could rise to 15 percent by midyear and some grimly foresee unemployment rivaling the Great Depression. These are valid and major future catastrophic concerns. President Trump’s tweet — "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," makes a lot of sense right about now.

Part of the problem was epidemiological models were hugely inaccurate.

The Imperial College London projected that without drastic measures, more than 2 million U.S. citizens would die. The World Health Organization (WHO) originally circulated figures of 3.5 percent of people diagnosed with COVID-19 would die in the U.S.

These ominous threats promptly induced fear in policymakers’ decision-making mandating that the majority of Americans shelter-in-place and stand at least six feet apart, as schools and nonessential businesses closed indefinitely. Acting decisively and urgently has helped slow the spread of this virus but at a future high health cost.

Dr. John Ioannidis, professor of medicine, epidemiology, and population health at Stanford University, has warned we never did have reliable data and what was presented was an astronomical error. As a scientist trained in infectious diseases, he believes the decisions made, are having a monumental impact on saving lives but also have the potential of harming many more lives because of the consequences of the economic measures implemented.

Other researchers, like Dr. Ioannidis, believe there are actually many more of us who’ve already been infected but not documented due to asymptomatic symptoms making the denominator much larger. A Stanford University study of Santa Clara County residents found this to be true. A higher than expected percentage already had antibodies to coronavirus indicating a wider spread of it was already present.

Who are the most vulnerable we must protect from COVID-19?

There is no question there are some people at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from it than others.

These individuals include:

—Anyone over the age of 65. The average age of death from COVID-19 in the U.S. is ages 73-74. People living in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

—People of all ages with several underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, asthma, serious heart conditions, obesity, or anyone using corticosteroids or other immune weakening medications.

—Anyone living in poverty.

We must take strong preventative measures to protect these vulnerable individuals from this infection. Doing so saves lives.

A Prolonged Economic Shutdown Puts Americans' Health in Peril

There are always risks and benefits to every decision made. No one wants to minimize the importance of protecting those most susceptible of developing a severe coronavirus infection. From a medical standpoint, we have a better understanding of this virus and will eventually be wiser at treating it successfully down the road.

Yet, it’s time for America to reopen for business.

Let healthy people go back to work and continue to shelter those who absolutely should not get coronavirus. To wait much longer may be too late. If the doom and gloom economic predictions come true, more American lives will suffer higher health risks culminating in higher death rates for years to come. Call them deaths of despair, as citizens lose their jobs, the cost of poverty always kills more than any virus.

It’s no secret that a root cause of drug overdose, suicides and alcoholism is unemployment.

A 2020 Lancet study reviewing the social costs of the 2008 banking crisis and the economic recession that followed, attributed 45,000 — or one in five — suicides a year worldwide to unemployment.

A National Bureau of Economic Research report found a 1% increase in the unemployment rate could mean a 3% rise in opioid overdose deaths and more than a 6 percent rise in emergency room visits.

Unsurprisingly, as unemployment rates rise, so do risky and excessive drinking behaviors. When times are tough, binge drinking, drunk driving and alcohol dependence become more common in a declining economy with layoffs and job loss.

Unemployment is also hard on the heart. Studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine found job losses to increase up to 35% of suffering a heart attack. Stress, worsening lifestyle and poor management of chronic conditions without health insurance is part of the blame. Without a job, controlling diabetes or high blood pressure is simply more difficult.

An economic downturn also affects Americans with chronic ailments.

Nearly one in five of us are being treated for ailments like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or chronic lung disease. If just one in 1,000 of these citizens dies due to inability to get medications, treatments or because local hospitals are closed due to financial instability, that is another 75,000 deaths.

Avoiding Economic Disaster

Tough times and tough decisions wait ahead.

There are no easy answers for what we are likely facing.

But as a physician, I’m worried Americans’ future health is at stake. Those living paycheck to paycheck or anyone unemployed, their first concerns are how to pay bills with little time to focus on their health. That’s why opening back up the economy matters and when done sensibly can stall off a possible recession or depression.

Timing is critical. If done soon, we have a fair chance of a good recovery.

But if delayed, our healthcare could nosedive right along with the economy. Let’s work together to not make that happen.

Dr. David Samadi is Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He is a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City. He is regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., trained in oncology, open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgery. He has vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Read Dr. David Samadi’s Reports – More Here.

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As a physician, I’m worried Americans’ future health is at stake. Those living paycheck to paycheck or anyone unemployed, their first concerns are how to pay bills with little time to focus on their health.
china, unemployment, recovery
Tuesday, 21 April 2020 01:35 PM
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