COVID-19 increased the risks of several public health issues. The operating procedures followed by the public somehow managed to control the pandemic spread but gave birth to the concern of rising public health issues. In this blog post, major public health issues caused by the pandemic are discussed. Before proceeding, you should understand the term “Public Health Issues”. It characterizes emergency health issues ranging from coronary heart diseases to infectious diseases. To overcome public health issues, local and national health supervisors have launched public health awareness programs.

Public healthcare systems are more vulnerable to weakness due to the stress caused by the pandemic. Once COVID-19 hit, hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID patients and people with chronic issues were told to stay at home and only come in if it was an absolute emergency. 

In the U.S., COVID-19 crushed the healthcare sector. It was reported that due to creating more space between beds, 30% of the patients were rolled out of the wards and into places like hallways and waiting rooms.

Psychological Health Issues

Even before COVID-19 hit, around one out of three people reported having some type of anxiety or depression symptoms. Since COVID-19 broke out, the number of people that have reported feeling anxiety or depression has increased to 42%. Depression and anxiety were reported for different reasons, but main the reasons point to social distancing, lockdowns and isolation procedures. 

Socialization was at its peak at the end of 2019, and when suddenly life stopped and we could no longer go to our favorite restaurants, parks, or cafes, people’s anxiety levels started to rise and they looked for other avenues to get the pandemic off their minds. 

So naturally, people started using social media more as a distraction. In 2020, user’s increased their social media time by an average of ten minutes per day. As you may know, reports show that mental health issues increase as more time is spent on social media. Cognitive abilities are disrupted and serotonin and dopamine are depleted with excess social media use. Not to mention, that one cause of these health issues come from the exposure to violence, bullying and harassing content. It further leads to increased suicide rates among younger generations. The suicide rate from 2007 to 2018 increased nearly 60% for young people aged 10 to 24, which correlates during the same timeframe as the rise of social media.

Drug overdoses

As the COVID-19 pandemic locked-down America, drug overdoses in this country hit a new high. From 2019 to 2020, overdoses in America increased around 8% on average. Many types of research studies were conducted with U.S. residents to calculate the spike in mortality rates due to drug overdose during the pandemic. A national emergency was declared and still to this day the American opioid crisis continues to flourish as fentanyl shipments into America increase at an unprecedented rate.

Preventable Infectious Diseases

When COVID-19 was spreading fast, lockdowns were implemented, and hence immunization programs were postponed. These immunizations include vaccines for measles, HPV, and other such diseases. Due to COVID restrictions, and unavailability of enough space in hospitals, it became hard to diagnose and treat such infectious diseases as TB, HIV, and others. The World Health Organization sent out a statement saying that if we stop giving vaccines to children for preventable diseases, then it will result in serious consequences down the road. These consequences could be even more alarming than the COVID pandemic. 

Food Insecurities

Due to COVID-19, businesses and supply chains everywhere were forced to halt operations. This caused food supply chains to break down as well. Because of this, food insecurities and shortages happen everywhere and store shelves were left empty for weeks. 

America already had a food desert and food insecurity problem before the pandemic. Since the pandemic, there are over 17 million children struggling with hunger in America which is six million more than before the pandemic. Food insecurities cause a lot more problems than hunger. It affects the overall health and well-being of a child and their physical and mental growth. 

Alcohol & Tobacco Abuse

As with other public health issues, alcohol and tobacco consumption went through the roof during the pandemic. Alcoholic drink sales increased 34% year over year and tobacco consumption increased 13%. 

“These are significant jumps, and show that the stress, boredom and loneliness caused by the pandemic may have led to increased alcohol and tobacco use,” said Brian P. Lee, MD, MAS, a hepatologist and liver transplant specialist with Keck Medicine and the USC Institute for Addiction Science, and lead author of the study.

Surveys found that the increase in sales came mainly from younger adults, ethnic minorities, families, and high-salary individuals. These are all very concerning signs about the physical and mental health of these individuals. More people are trying to escape the reality of the pandemic, which is understandable, but there are healthier ways to do.

Take Away!

Concluding, pandemics not only disturbed routine life but also increased risks to many public health issues. People are more prone to fatal diseases as healthcare centers work to tackle growing community healthcare needs. Most of the hospitals were transformed into COVID a treatment center which is the reason we need to evaluate these public health issues and find ways to help individuals suffering from them.