Mental Health

COVID Consequences Emerge as City Addresses Recovering From Pandemic

If you're feeling mentally drained from the pandemic, you're not alone, according to doctors

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Since California reopened nearly two weeks ago, the indirect consequences of the pandemic are starting to emerge.

Mental health and child care were among the topics covered during the city of San Diego's COVID-19 Recovery and Response Committee Meeting on Monday.

Officials said that 66% of the eligible San Diego County population is fully vaccinated, but there’s been a slight uptick in cases in the county, with about 100 new cases per day since reopening. The county had been averaging about 40 cases a day.

So far, 16 people have tested positive for the highly transmissible and more severe delta variant; all were unvaccinated, authorities said. Another change: Younger people are now being hospitalized more, health officials said.

“I’m telling you, as a physician: Get your vaccines," San Diego council president Jennifer Campbell said on Monday, "otherwise you can get very sick and you could die. If we want to continue to enjoy the resilience of our economy, we must take care of our health.”

Speaking of health, from 2015-19, county residents' efforts to control blood pressure and blood sugars had been improving, but those numbers declined during the pandemic, according to San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency.

Death by unintended overdose rose 40% nationwide in 2020, and anxiety and depression also increased significantly, officials said.

Sharp Health psychologist Dara Schwartz added perspective for the committee on how mental health affects people differently, even though they have all lived through the pandemic.

“For every person excited to return to work, there are those who are scared, frustrated, still juggling other demands like childcare,” Schwartz said. “For every person who is nervous and cautious about returning to work in person, [there] is a person who never even had the option to work from home and resents that you’re even fearful of that.”

Mental health experts recommend checking brain health like we would anything else. If patterns of being very anxious, in a low mood, experiencing exhaustion, sleeping poorly and weight loss occur daily, it could be a sign that someone needs professional help.

At the committee meeting, the city also outlined protections from commercial and residential eviction, with the San Diego Chamber of Commerce noting that rapidly rising housing costs are a challenge in attracting workers.

A representative for San Diego’s Workforce Partnership said that the childcare crisis is one of the greatest barriers to getting employees back to work, especially for women, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Most COVID guidelines will be kept in place until Sept 1. Larger, indoor events will require vaccination or testing requirements until Oct 1.

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