The Coronavirus pandemic that started in 2019 was an unprecedented health emergency. It affected almost every country in the world, and in the blink of an eye, changed how we live and work. Although the disease itself is now considered under control in most parts of the world, the psychological impact of the pandemic on individuals and organizations remains. The global economic impact was also immense, as the World Bank estimated that the combined impact of the virus and the subsequent containment measures were worth 6.4% of the world’s GDP.[1]

One of the most visible signs of the pandemic’s impact are the unprecedented numbers of home and family separations created by the lockdowns and isolation measures implemented to limit the spread of the virus. Even before the pandemic, the United States was one of the most unequal countries in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the country’s already wide wealth and income disparities. According to the American Institute of Stress, over 44 million American adults experience stress at least occasionally. It is reasonable to assume that a large portion of these individuals will have their mental health and well-being impacted by the pandemic. This is particularly relevant given that the stressors and challenges that the pandemic threw down were disproportionately borne by low-income Americans.

Poverty And Home Abandonment

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are now 16 million homeless people in the United States. Among this group, an estimated 7 million are children. This is a 15% increase since before the pandemic. Home abandonment is also on the rise, with over 1.5 million single-parent households now living in poverty.[2] The home care products industry, which includes medical equipment and supplies as well as household items such as dishware and bedsheets, saw its sales decline by 24% in March 2020 compared to the same month in 2019.[3]

One reason for the steep sales decline is that much of the home care equipment and supplies is necessary for people with health problems. Those suffering from chronic illnesses or disabilities may experience difficulty in accessing essential items, such as prosthetics and walkers for people with disabilities or medical equipment for people with chronic ailments. The result is that many individuals and families may be forced to choose between buying necessities or paying for health care. This is likely to increase the already high rates of anxiety and depression among the poor. Home carers also reported increased emotional distress due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety supplies. The coronavirus pandemic exposed many shortcomings in the country’s health care system and its distribution of resources and equipment, potentially endangering the wellbeing of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

Economic Distress And Job Loss

The unemployment rate in the U.S. increased by 600% in the month following the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic. As of April 2020, there were 25.8 million people in the U.S. economy who were jobless, and this is expected to rise to 30 million by the end of the year. Wages, benefits, and unemployment insurance are all expected to be significantly affected by the pandemic. The unemployment rate among teens in the U.S. almost doubled in the month following the pandemic, and it continues to rise. About one in four American teens now live in poverty, and it is estimated that nearly half of all unemployed teens will be without jobs for at least six months. This is largely due to the fact that most companies have voluntarily or federally mandated closed-door policies in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These policies limit the number of employees that can be employed, forcing many organizations to lay off staff.

It is important to acknowledge that these are unprecedented times, and there is no way to know how the pandemic and its subsequent impacts will play out. The COVID-19 pandemic was certainly not anticipated, and this has caused widespread mental and physical health issues that will likely surface for many years to come. In the meantime, those suffering should be sure to get the support that they need.