Tag Archives: pandemic

KFF Finds 53% of US Adults Stressed by Coronavirus & Economic ConcernsUntitled

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders,” report authors at the Kaiser family foundation (KFF).

The research team was led by Nirmita Panchal, collected data in July. They found that 53% of US adults said that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. Researchers noted that this was significantly higher than the 32% they found in March 2020.”

Many adults are also reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and wellbeing, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.”

Authors concluded that, “As the pandemic wears on, ongoing and necessary public health measures expose many people to experiencing situations linked to poor mental health outcomes, such as isolation and job loss.”

The researcher cited other conclusions noting that research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health. The data from late March shows that “significantly higher shares of people who were sheltering in place (47%) reported negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus than among those not sheltering-in-place (37%).”

“In particular, isolation and loneliness during the pandemic may present specific mental health risks for households with adolescents and for older adults. The share of older adults (ages 65 and up) reporting negative mental health impacts has increased since March. Polling data shows that women with children under the age of 18 are more likely to report major negative mental health impacts than their male counterparts.”

Authors also point out that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. These problems may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. “… data shows that more than half of the people who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus; and lower income people report higher rates of major negative mental health impacts compared to higher income people,” noted the KFF researchers.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one in five of U.S. adults (47 million) reported having a mental illness in the past year, and over 11 million had a serious mental illness, which frequently results in functional impairment and limits life activities. In 2017-2018, more than 17 million adults and an additional three million adolescents had a major depressive episode in the past year.

“Deaths due to drug overdose have increased more than threefold over the past 19 years (from 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 20.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2018).

In 2018, over 48,000 Americans died by suicide, and in 2017-2018, nearly eleven million adults (4.3%) reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.

The authors state that during this unprecedented pandemic, it is reasonable to predict that mental health issues and substance abuse are exacerbated.

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Legislature Calls Itself into Session

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The Louisiana legislature called themselves into a special session that began on September 28 and which will end by October 27. The September 21 Proclamation lists 70 topics to be addressed, including items for replenishing Louisiana’s Unemployment Trust Fund, addressing COVID-19 recovery efforts, supporting communities impacted by Hurricane Laura, and possible funding of certain devastated school systems.

However, at the top of the list are items about the expanded powers of government under emergency conditions.

The first topic relates to “…legislative procedures, powers, duties, and authority pursuant to the Louisiana Health Emergency Powers Act…” The second item refers to ” … the power and authority of executive branch officers and agencies.”

Gov. Edwards immediately voiced his concerns in a September 21 statement.

“At a time when our state is dealing with the COVID-19 health emergency, hurricanes,
and one severe weather event after another, I am concerned that the Legislature has
again called themselves into a month-long session with an agenda of 70 items. This
session will occur at a time when the public will again be restricted in their access to the
State Capitol and their ability to give needed public input.

“From the beginning of this emergency, I have relied on public health experts and the
White House Coronavirus Task Force to guide Louisiana’s response to this historic
emergency. Further, this response has been in line with the measures taken by our
neighboring states that have unfortunately also been enormously impacted by COVID19.

“Put simply, the measures we have taken in Louisiana are working and we are making
significant progress. However, to abandon these efforts in defiance of the unanimous
advice of the public health experts and the Trump administration would seriously
jeopardize the lives of our people and the gains we have made. Further, it is important
to remember our work in containing COVID19 is far from done, as Louisiana still has the
highest number of per capita infections in the country.

“I am hopeful that the Legislative leadership will significantly narrow the scope and the
duration of this session so that they can do the work they deem necessary, while at the
same time working in a bipartisan and cooperative manner to address our
significant challenges in an honest and transparent manner. Louisianans have come
too far to have all of our effective and lifesaving work upended.”

In a September 28 editorial, The Advocate warned, “As with some of the other
budgetary items on the expansive menu, it’s too soon to say if the body can make
intelligent decisions when so many things, really almost everything, is in flux.

“Further, legislators should remind themselves that interfering with the complex
machinery of emergency declarations means that lawmakers will be taking responsibility upon themselves, individually and as a body, in a situation where there is no pleasant alternative, only a choice among bad options.”

Regarding the special session, proposed measures have been submitted and are being reviewed this month. The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists did not submit a new copy of their legislation, which they proposed earlier this year in the
regular session. Sources indicate that the board is working on that legislation for 2021.

Very few bills have to do with psychology since the topics for the session are narrowed
to emergency events. However, House Bill 33 and Senate Bill 12, which are duplicates,
relate to emergency counseling in healthcare facilities.

Present law defines “mental health support personnel” to include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and volunteer crisis counseling groups.

The proposed law provides that the Louisiana Department of Health may include the availability of no-cost or reduced-cost counseling or mental health support services offered by members of the clergy, religious organizations, or other nonprofit organizations when providing information about and referrals to mental health support personnel to address the psychological responses to the public health emergency.

The proposed law requires that, during the COVID-19 public health emergency or any
other contagious or infectious disease for which a state of public health emergency
has been declared, an inpatient healthcare facility provide patient or resident access
to members of the clergy for prayer, mental health support or religious counseling, the sacraments of Holy Communion, Anointing of the Sick, and Last Rites, and other such customary religious services that would normally be offered to patients or residents if the healthcare facility was not subject to a declaration of a state of public health
emergency.

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Gov Edwards Signs State Budget

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State Agency Heads Directed to Prepare for Possible Mid-Year Budget Cuts
Gov. Edwards Signs State Budget to Preserve Critical Funding During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Baton Rouge – On July 8, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he has signed the
state’s budget for the FY 20-21 operating year, preserving funding for critical health
care, workforce and education services that are needed during the pandemic, especially
as new COVID-19 cases rise again as school systems prepare to return to campus
in the fall, according to the press release from the Governor’s office.

Additionally, the Governor Edwards has ordered cabinet agencies to prepare for possible mid-year budget cuts by sequestering at least 10 percent of their budgets, which he also recommends for the judicial and legislative branches.

He will also issue an executive order to freeze hiring of state employees.

“Right now our budget is in a far better shape than we could have hoped just three
months ago, with funding for critical services in place as we continue to respond to the
COVID-19 pandemic and see case counts as well as hospitalizations rising,” he said.

“I have directed state agencies to prepare for possible mid-year cuts and, we will continue working with the Legislature to make any adjustments that may be necessary this fall,” Gov. Edwards said. “While there are cuts in the budget, federal CARES act funding allowed us to avoid making them even more catastrophic. In addition, we were able to invest CARES act funding into programs for local governments, aid to businesses and direct payments to essential front line workers.”

The Governor also vetoed language that cancelled meritr aises for classified state employees

Gov. Edwards vetoed a provision that impermissibly delayed pay raises for classified state employees and other provisions that sequestered funds appropriated to the executive branch, but not funds appropriated to the legislative and judicial branches.
He also vetoed more than $9 million in
new spending, as well as a provision
contrary to Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services guidelines that would
negatively impact the Louisiana
Department of Health and require the
expenditure of more than $10 million of
state general fund plus $32 million of
federal funds.

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Cases Rise, Governor Extends Phase Two

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Cases Rise, Governor Extends Phase Two

On July 23, Gov. Edwards signed orders and extending Phase Two and the Statewide Mask Mandate as Louisiana surpassed 100,000 known COVID-19 cases.

State officials put out a graphic highlighting the fact that Louisiana was first in the
nation based on a July 26 high of 3,840 new cases.

The Gov. Edwards signed a renewal of the current proclamation extending Phase Two
in the state, which includes the statewide mask mandate and additional restrictions,
until August 7.

“Today, we are reporting 2,408 new cases, which means that the state has now
surpassed 100,00 total cases. And of course, these are only the cases we know about. There are undoubtedly more,” Gov. Edwards said. “When you hit a milestone like
this one and when you see death totals that are higher than they’ve been in months, as we did yesterday, it’s a reality check.”

“For anyone out there minimizing the seriousness of this situation, you are doing
yourself and this state a terrible disservice. The same is true for anyone questioning the validity of the data that we’re using and releasing every day,” Gov. Edwards said. “COVID-19 is very prevalent throughout our state, and it is more widespread than ever before. We are certainly not where we want to be in Louisiana. I’ve extended Phase 2 with the mask mandate and other restrictions, but we are perilously close to having to make tough decisions that no one wants. This is why we have to follow the mitigation measures that are in place. We have to wear our masks, keep social distance, wash
our hands frequently and stay home when we are feeling sick.”

The statewide mask mandate applies to all 64 parishes in Louisiana. However, parishes with a COVID-19 incidence of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the most recent two week period for which data is available can choose to opt out of the mandate. Under the state’s policy, parish presidents in parishes with lower incidence rates do not have to opt out and may choose to keep a mask mandate in place.

The Louisiana Department of Health updates its incidence data every other week and at the time of the announcement, no Louisiana parish meets the standard to opt out of the current mask mandate.

The order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older except for the following

Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
Anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate
Masks are strongly recommended for children
ages 2 to 7.

All bars, including those with food permits from the Louisiana Department of Health, will be closed to on-premises consumption. They can operate for curbside takeout or delivery service only.

The order also limits the size of social gatherings to 50 people indoors. Outdoor
social gatherings are also limited to 50 people if individuals cannot avoid being within six feet of one another.

Experts warn of a mental health crisis due to the impact of Covid-19.

According to a report by ABC News, authored by Alexis Carrington, the impact of Covid-19 could include 20 additional firearm-related suicides per day.

In the July 7 report, the author wrote that a new study has found that there may be a 20 to 30% increase in firearms suicides due to the mental health impact of Covid.

“The uncertainty brought on by the pandemic has been impacting people’s mental health and increasing feelings of anxiety and depression. The pandemic has also led to
increases in gun purchases with an estimated 1.9 million additional guns sold during March and April 2020 compared to the same time period last year. Having access to a firearm in the home triples the risk of death by suicide.”

“The study comes from the research arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, a non profit
organization which advocates for gun control. Rearchers at Everytown looked back at prior crises that led to massive unemployment, including the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession that ended in 2010.”

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