What One Million COVID Dead Mean for the U.S.’s Future

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  • The U.S. will record one million confirmed deaths from COVID in the next several weeks. 
  • The effects on children may be the longest-lasting.
  • The effects on children may be the longest-lasting.

The U.S. is soon to confirm a million deaths from covid. As covid deaths are on a rise in the States, many also suffer from the loss of both their economic asset and their loved ones. As stated in a recent article by Scientific American.

Recording more deaths from covid and its effects on different age groups

The U.S. will record one million confirmed deaths from COVID in the next several weeks. This toll is likely an undercount because there are more than 200,000 other excess deaths that go beyond typical mortality rates, caused in part by the lingering effects of the disease and the strain of the pandemic. These immense losses are shaping our country—how we live, work and love, how we play and pray and learn and grow.

“We will see the rippling effects of the pandemic on our society and the way it impacts individuals for generations,” says Nyesha Black, director of demographic research at the University of Alabama. “This is definitely a huge marker in the way we will think about society moving forward—it will be that anchor event.” COVID has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer.

These deaths have wide-ranging consequences. The effects on children may be the longest-lasting. In the U.S., an estimated 243,000 children have lost a caregiver to COVID—including 194,000 who lost one or both parents—and the psychological and economic aftershocks can have lifetime negative impacts on their education and career.

The effects on children may be the longest-lasting. As of March 25, about three-quarters of the dead, or around 730,000, have been people 65 and older. Many of them were otherwise healthy and, statistically, would have lived many more years, says Jennifer Dowd, a demographer at the University of Oxford. Their passing leaves a giant hole, she notes. On average, every death from COVID leaves nine people grieving.

In the U.S., there were 54.1 million people 65 and older in 2019, and since then the coronavirus has killed one out of every 74 of them. These deaths are more concentrated in even older populations: more than a quarter have occurred in those age 85 and older, while another quarter has been in those 75 to 84.

Younger people have not escaped. About 240,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 have died, nearly a quarter of the total toll. Among working-age Americans, “we are seeing right now the highest death rates we have ever seen in the history of this business,” said J. Scott Davison, CEO of the insurance company OneAmerica, in late December 2021. “Death rates are up 40 percent over what they were pre-pandemic.” For comparison, he said, “a one-in-200-year catastrophe” would lead to a 10 percent increase, “so 40 percent is just unheard of.”

certain types of work were hit harder by COVID than others. Those in fields such as food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction saw higher rates of death than in many other occupations. And working in a nursing home has been one of the deadliest jobs in the U.S.

ECONOMIC AND EMOTIONAL COSTS

“In certain communities or certain economic groups, there is not a lot of room for error,” Black says. “You don’t have the safety net in terms of the economic resources if you lost someone, and they were a contribution to the household. So those disruptions can be more long-term, or the effect of them can be more detrimental.”

Not all of these resources are part of the official economy. “A lot of communities that are lower-income, for example, they may not go to the private market to purchase childcare,” Black says. “So what happens when you don’t have your grandmother around or your mother around? Who can now watch your child?” Losing childcare can affects parents’ ability to work, making it more difficult to provide for their families. More than one million women left the workforce during the pandemic, in large part because of childcare disruptions.

A lot of that childcare came from grandparents, who play an integral role in children’s lives, providing emotional and financial support. More than 80 per cent of Americans age 65 or older are grandparents, and about one in five provide childcare regularly, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey. In 2019 grandparents provided housing for 4.5 million children, Grandparents of colour are more likely to help financially and logistically. According to a survey reported in 2012, more than half of Hispanic or Latino grandparents said they provided childcare for five years or more, and African American grandparents were most likely to be their grandchildren’s primary caregivers, compared with other groups—making the disproportionate losses from COVID in communities of colour even greater.

After a primary caregiver’s death, kids often have a higher risk of many problems. More than half of kids report having significant mental health issues. Losses also put children at greater risk for physical, emotional and sexual violence, poverty, suicide, teen pregnancy, and infectious and chronic illnesses. Losing a caregiver can worsen feelings of abandonment, affect self-esteem and make it harder to cope with stress.

The difficulties extend to kids’ education. Children who lose a parent tend to see their performance at school suffer, and that, in turn, harms future income and family stability. “In social epidemiology, we think about these effects as the long arm of childhood trauma—effects that exert themselves throughout the life course,” Stokes says. “It’s kind of a direct path from education to economic viability and security or having more precarious employments.”

For children, the aged and the rest of society, experts expect to see a long-term worsening trajectory of health and survival in the coming years. One reason is the effect of long COVID,” a cluster of debilitating symptoms, including fatigue, headache, pain and shortness of breath, that can last for months after initial infection. The syndrome may also result in increased mortality, with people dying months after contracting the virus.

Delays in getting health care, created by the crush of acute and long COVID patients during the pandemic, may lead to higher death rates for people who have developed diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions. The U.S. already had a crisis of chronic disease, especially in working-age people, which is one reason why the coronavirus wreaked havoc, Stokes adds. “There’s an interaction with these chronic diseases, and it’s increasing the mortality risk from those conditions.”

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Source: Scientific American

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