It’s hard to understand what a number like that means. Imagine dragging out into a string of zeros. But even if you delve into the headlines and try to focus on the smaller numbers, you’ll find them equally incomprehensible.What they drive home is that we don’t yet know about the virus. And what it does to us – actually, we may never know how much.
Considering the 158,000 additional deaths not directly attributable to COVID-19, it is safe enough to be largely linked to the epidemic. But if you want to know more, you will quickly run into problems.
Of course, some of them were the deaths of COVID-19, which were not recorded as such. It seems vital that stroke and heart disease deaths have increased during the epidemic, while cancer deaths continue to persist. Stroke and heart attack are not complications of COVID-19.
We can also blame the 13,000 other diabetes-induced viruses, a known risk factor. But report more traffic deaths, most likely not sick people hitting the emergency room? The more likely culprits are faster speeds and reckless driving that are suddenly activated on open roads.
In some cases, we may not know how to blame the virus or our reaction to it. In particular, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease rose 10 percent from 2019.Of course, people with dementia are more likely to live in nursing homes, where COVID-19 is affected. Most of the time, but when those nursing homes isolate patients in their rooms to prevent the virus from spreading, it is devastating for people with dementia. For vulnerable people who are unable to get through the day to make friends or surf the Internet, isolation is a great torture that can lower them even if they have never been exposed to COVID-19.
In addition to medicine, we must also be mindful of the rapid increase in homicide in dozens of American cities. How much should we pay attention to COVID-19, how likely it is, what previous trends, reduced police relations with the community, or other factors?
We finally come to the most surprising category, which is actually better. Mortality from chronic lower respiratory disease fell by about 3 percent in 2020, presumably because people with the serious respiratory disease are likely to stay at home, wear masks and wash their hands. And in spite of the harrowing predictions, I keep hearing how a lockout might induce suicide. But suicide was down about 6 percent.
This goes against expectations that I contacted Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University. He noted that many experts found the numbers to be surprising as well. Suicide usually follows the type of traumatic event that occurred more frequently during the epidemic: loss of work, business, loved ones. There were also accidental overdoses and visits to the emergency room for psychological distress.
But we can name some countermeasures. For example, the extraordinarily extended unemployment benefits mean that more people who lose their jobs are financially better in 2020, in fact, with less costly leisure activities. But a lot of household balance sheets look pretty good now. Of course, some people have suffered a lot, especially small business owners.
At the same time, some people who end up living with a family may have more psychological support than usual, and a feeling of overall misery may arise, Olfson says, “protect it for some.” By yourself, while not everyone is social, you will feel like a failure. If everyone’s watching Netflix at home, you’re one of the many.
But Olfson also pointed out that although the numbers are down overall, But many people have been driven to suicide by the pressure of the outbreak. People who look at struggling friends and family and conclude that we are facing an unprecedented psychological tsunami are absolutely not wrong. It’s just their experience, not representative of the whole country.
For that matter, it is likely this year’s injuries could have sustained consequences, which will appear in death reports five or 20 years from now – the psychological rubble still washed up nicely after the storm. We may never know how bad a hurricane is, only the horrors that have blown over us, and so much that has been destroyed cannot be recovered.