Increased social issues with social distancing?

I’ve heard this claim going around where 600 doctors wrote a letter to the President as reported here:

Specifically they say:

The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. In youths it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse.

While certainly I’ve heard others telling people to come in for suspected heart attacks and the like, do you know what the evidence says about alcohol abuse or suicide? And as the argument goes we must reopen immediately.

This is the only report I could find which estimates potentially 75,000 extra deaths over the next ten years:

My comment is this is a serious issue to be dealt with but the solution is not just go back to summer as normal forgetting this virus exists.


Thank you for saying this because it often feels like “stay home” people (I hope this doesn’t sound offensive or anything. I’m not sure what term to use.) are ignoring the huge implications of these shutdowns. While the list above covers grave areas of concern, the hunger crisis sticks out to me as something that needs immediate action. This is probably the main reason why I am on the side of reopening. But as you say, it cannot be “as normal”. Basically, we need more nuance in these discussions.

It definitely needs to be addressed. Going back to normal is definitely not ideal. But we also can’t stay shut down for another 12-18 months.

The reality is that the economy will open back up. It’s already starting and even while we were shut down the regulations were ignored by many.

Whatever choice we make this will most definitely be the byproduct. Because it won’t be opened up all the way many will lose their jobs, and will end up in bad spots but perhaps we will save some lives. Because we open up more than we are, it will cause some to get the virus and die, but we will have saved some from the negative effects of being locked down.

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Yeah, I think so too. And I am grateful to those who are pointing out the negative effects of shutdown, because they are looking out for the health of others in many ways. But I do also have to consider, how many of these problems will be just as prevalent (if not more so) as we open things up and the virus spreads more? Many people will still stay home, and for many it is a lose-lose predicament. I hope also for a “new normal.”

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I don’t think most care to be honest.

I drove by a bar last night where I am friends with the owner and went there to give him a book. There was a line of roughly 200+ people that were going to be waiting 2+ hours to get in. Inside there was 80 people. Every hour they changed the color of bracelets of people let in and got those with older colors to bounce. A two max of bring in. Not a single person except maybe 15 had masks.
While kayaking at the beach there were hundreds and hundreds of college students gathered together. So bad florida shut down some beaches. My friends in Texas and Washington said similar things were happening.

~sigh~ I don’t even know what to do with this.

Agreed. Also there is the issue of schools essentially providing childcare for many people. You can’t send people back to work but keep schools closed and summer camp programs cancelled, which I know is a big issue in some places. Or grandma who used to provide childcare is in a medically vulnerable population and can’t help anymore.

I know I have seen far more references to alcohol as a coping mechanism since the quarantine and that worries me. There is also the rising domestic abuse and sexual abuse.

All these are issues that we shouldn’t gloss over. I just wish there were more conversations happening in somewhat neutral venues where you could trust you weren’t just hearing some sort of politically pre-digested talking points designed to point you in a direction.

I have seen multiple articles saying anxiety and depression are up. It seems like it’s kind of too soon to be making pronouncements about how the pandemic has affected suicide rates. Youth suicides were the highest they have been in decades last year, so maybe it is just a continuation of the trend.

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I’m definitely not supporting it.

Just that in all reality my experience is that most people don’t care. Businesses are back to letting 1/3 dine in, and are maxed out with hour long waits. When I go to the store the few wearing a mask is far outweighed by the many who are not.

That’s going to be the biggest problem in my eyes. The economy could still be opened up and everything would go better if everyone made an attempt to wear masks, only touch what they need, and wait in their vehicles or continue to do take out. I believe where I live it’s still illegal for people to go to tattoo shops or to go out fishing on a boat through a company. But I saw tattoo shops opened up and one was doing specials on piercings and one or two boats with like 10+ people on the charter got stopped and then a friend of mine said there are so many they just stopped caring. He’s a sheriff and said he could go to the boat launch right now and there are probably a dozen charters waiting to fill up. I live in a city of high end tourism. In the end people coming down and are renting beach houses for $25k a week and filling up with 40+ college kids and having weddings. At first I thought it was just here because it’s south Alabama and it’s not a state exactly known for it’s healthy choices and pro
Scientific stances. But friends from all over USA, and even friends from India and Japan and my fiancée in China mentions the same things happening.

I’ve never been big into that scene. Even before this virus I mostly did take out because I live alone and have lived alone for every year but two years since I was 16. I feel awkward sitting at a table on a Friday night reading a botany book while everyone else is partying while I’m waiting 45 minutes for a meal to come out. Instead I just order it over the phone, and wait and drive there and get it and leave and eat at home. So I don’t completely get the obsession to be partying. From the outside in it just looks like a obnoxiously loud gathers of future hang overs.

What I’m about to say will be taken by some as “permission” to dismiss the medical experts - which I will say up front, is not intended and nor does it require such an attitude even if my “thinking aloud” here proves accurate.

There is probably some name or phrase for this that escapes me at the moment … let’s call it “jurisdiction”. All of us have our areas where, due to our work / training we’ve got some jurisdiction allotted us (or we feel we do, at any rate). And we (rightly) feel the responsibility for “our area” and its smooth functioning and contribution toward our communities and nation. So if the subject of education comes up - or an issue surfaces that is directly connected with that project, my ears as a teacher may perk up and I join the conversation or otherwise try to contribute toward that area which I’m invested in (and which has invested in me). So on the question of whether schools should open their doors come August, we teachers have a definite and strong set of opinions (we may not all agree mind you - but the strong opinions will be had) … and a great many of them will be along the lines of … “well, if we can’t open our doors and get kids back into the classroom, this whole project suffers and our ‘jurisdiction’ takes a hit!”, meaning … we feel it personally. Meanwhile the health and medical experts, with a now more than threatened jurisdiction of their own respond: “no way! Your only prudent course of action simply cannot allow x, y, and z to happen before such and such criteria are met!” And their concerns will be conservatively tailored to try to restore their own domain back into some normalcy from their point of view! (which is not a trivial ‘point of view’, mind you, since it involves helping keep as many of us alive as possible.) The business owners, meanwhile have suffering jurisdictions of their own that are suffering, and all they see is that they’ve been taking the hits, and they understandably also want their own normalcy restored.

I’m not suggesting that all points of view are equal here - certainly when an outbreak erupts and people in your own household or neighborhood may be fighting for their lives, most other concerns will fall by the wayside. But they don’t go away … not forever, and never entirely. But it should help us realize why people react as they do and help us have some patience with each other. When traffic officials set a speed limit for a certain stretch of road, I can know in the back of my mind that they have set that as a conservatively optimal thing to keep the roadways functioning smoothly and safely on their watch. So if occasionally in my own judgment of some situation I decide to go a bit faster (or slower), yes - I may temporarily be in violation of the letter, but I don’t lose much sleep over that. If a doctor wants me to take all three pills each day, but I only want to take two … that’s probably a much more serious issue for me to think I can be questioning a doctor’s opinion about. But in the end the doctor, the fire marshal, the traffic officials … each has their own reasons for insisting as they do. And we dismiss them at our own peril - sometimes more immediate peril, and sometimes long delayed.


Here is also a decrease in influenza (obviously) but maybe a rise in tuberculosis:

If you are referring to the 600 doctors they aren’t the ultimate authority and one of the leaders goes around peddling hydroxychloroquine despite growing evidence against it. I don’t think this sample, despite a relatively high number represent any consensus. There was some talking of finding doctors that are fully sympathetic with our president’s ideology (independent of scientific evidence) and weaponize them for his goals.


Yeah, 600 docs out of the 1.5 million (or so) in the US? Probably also those who also are suffering from loss of income from private practices/elective procedures. Just like those two “ER docs” who owned urgent cares.

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The thing that I wonder about all of this is that there are definitely some negative possible effects, but I wonder several things:

  1. Are things like domestic violence, alcoholism, and suicide increasing? Or are the levels fairly normal? (Which is still not good!!) I’ve read some stories of people who have struggled with suicide actually being able to help others cope with the isolation as @Christy posted above in the NYT article.
  2. Is the best solution to just open everything up as normal to combat these increased rates as I see many of my friends sending me these articles and citing things again and again?

Apparently it is also not just my circle of friends:

It does seem like a weird way of deflecting and avoiding the root causes of some of these things. It’s not like social distancing turned people into abusers or gave people anxiety disorders or ruined marriages.

It’s kind of like noting that the unequal toll on African-American and Hispanic communities and saying, “Wow, this virus is really highlighting systemic inequities in quality of life and healthcare” and having someone respond with, “Well, all the more reason to skip safety steps and get this vaccine rolled out ASAP so we don’t have to keep noting those inequities.” Okay, but a quick vaccine won’t fix the systemic healthcare inequities. Same as “opening up” is not going to make abuse or mental health issues or marital problems go away. We just won’t have to look at them in the “social distancing” context anymore.


The hunger issue (that leads to death by starvation) was extant before and IS worse now.

Ultimately I believe regardless of pros and cons, or better or worse, the economy is going to open almost completely back up. It’s not going to stay close. So the real questions are how can we encourage people to be safer and how can we as Christians be a light in the upcoming darkness through setting examples.


Right so what’s the solution?

I guess my point in the OP is many people are using these social issues as an argument to open the country immediately (not sure what that means in the first place). And I would guess if people can just go back to life as normal they probably will stop caring about such social issues.

First of all, I don’t think of the hunger crisis as a “social issue”. 3.1 million children died from hunger last year. That is children alone. That counts as public health issue in my book.

Secondly, people are all over the map. Are there people using these issues as an excuse? Absolutely. There are also people who were passionate about these things before and Yet others who are waking up to these things now. So I can’t quite get behind the cynicism.

As for the solution, I don’t know. Personally, I am giving to organizations that feed the hungry, trying to raise awareness, and work with local organizations to bring food to people.

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This is where I am at a loss. Trying to encourage people to be safe via public messaging doesn’t seem to work and personal conversations don’t seem to reach enough people. :disappointed:

If only there was more general trust of expertise when that is so relevant at a time like this. Sounds like we need something more coercive than simply encouraging it. Alas that doesn’t seem like anything this government will get behind.

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