With the prospect of the restrictions we are living under being increased for a long time, and given the lack of critical thinking and hard questions the media is asking about these restrictions and their necessity, I thought it appropriate to start talking about the negative impacts of the restrictions we are living under. Here are some:
Christopher Craig lights up when he talks about his 11-year-old son Cameron, who has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
"He's got a sense of humour … he can laugh half an hour straight, but when he's cranky, he's really off," Craig said.
Everything has been really off for their family the past three weeks. They've been self-isolating as much as possible during the pandemic.
Cameron can't walk, move his arms or communicate, really, and needs round-the-clock-care, Craig said.
At school, Cameron has access to physiotherapy, occupational therapy, music therapy and massage therapy, but right now, he is missing out on all of it.
Cameron's muscles are so tight, he's often in pain. Craig says it's difficult to open Cameron's arms or stretch his leg out to change his diaper.
"When he's had more stretching, more massage, more physio, he's looser and when he's looser, he's happier," Craig said.
Veronica has a genetic disorder called Angelman syndrome. She uses a wheelchair and experiences epileptic seizures every day.
Her developmental age is approximately two years old, St-Pierre said.
With school closed, Veronica's missing out on her occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy — but she misses people the most. People who have Angelman syndrome are often very sociable, St-Pierre said.
As a result, Veronica has been trying to join her mother's video conference calls.
"She tries to grab my laptop and pull it to herself so she can see my colleagues closer up," she said.
In addition to all the worry and uncertainty in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vanessa Coens is concerned about her two boys with autism regressing during this period of self-isolation.
Normally, 12-year-old Owen and 10-year-old Ben would be in school, which Coens said is critically important to developing and maintaining their social skills. Ball hockey and karate are also usually a part of their daily schedule.
"To get back into that, it's going to be very difficult," said Coens, who also works for Autism Ontario from Niagara Falls. "I worry about my sons, both of them, regressing socially … I worry about [him] not wanting to have that connection with other people that we've been working on with him."
If the current economic shutdown continues much beyond a few weeks, the long-term health consequences will far exceed the acute havoc of the coronavirus. We must, therefore, manage both the COVID-19 health crisis and the long-term crisis that has already begun.
The COVID-19 has taken 1,046 lives in the U.S. to date, and it will take many more. In the worst case, 81 percent of the population becomes infected over the course of the epidemic, resulting in 2.2 million deaths in the United States. By contrast, when the Diamond Princess cruise ship experience is projected onto the age structure of the U.S. population, it gives us a mid-range death rate among the infected of 0.3 percent. If we assume, as with the Diamond Princess, that 20 percent of the population becomes sick with coronavirus, then the expected number of U.S. deaths would be about 200,000. In this plausible scenario, total COVID-19 deaths is equivalent to six years of deaths from flu. Death from coronavirus is a tragedy, to be sure, but it won’t be our greatest.
The long-term health consequences of our present economic downturn are real. Heart disease, already the leading killer of Americans, will doubtless take more lives. Home confinement restricts exercise and access to fresh foods, which in turn lead to increased rates of obesity. Isolation increases depression and despair. Death by suicides have been increasing steadily in the U.S. over the past two decades; there’s every reason to believe that they will increase. Moreover, if 2018 was the first year in three decades that opioid deaths dropped slightly, coronavirus-era containment measures are sure to reverse this. Adverse health effects are manifestly clear at the individual, family, team, community and national levels.
Although a flatter curve may reduce deaths in particularly overburdened health systems, the net number of lives lost may not substantially differ over the course of the disease. The extent of long-run adverse health consequences, however, will increase with the extent of damage to the economy from prolonged efforts to flatten the curve.