Months of lockdowns have hit the US hard. Americans are craving to return to their normal lives, but some politicians are continually making policies that trample civil liberties. If drawn-out lockdowns are the cure, it might be worse than the disease, and even the World Health Organization agrees.
Literally Grinding their Teeth
Americans are up in arms against another round of lockdowns. In Arizona, people are losing their smiles as dental clinics like Rod W. Gore DDS find more and more people with damaged teeth, brought about by excessive conscious and unconscious grinding due to elevated stress levels. Nevada’s tourism industry is all but dead, costing more than 200,000 people their jobs from February to April.
The state had a record-high 28 percent unemployment rate during the height of the pandemic that has since gone down to 12 percent. Further lockdowns will cripple the state, and residents are protesting against the prospect of another one. In California, close to 20,000 businesses have permanently shut their doors. Small businesses have been the hardest hit, burdened by high overheads with little to no revenue.
Deaths of Despair
Deaths from suicides, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related illnesses have surpassed the number of deaths due to COVID-19. These so-called deaths of despair are usually brought about by isolation, depression, unemployment, and financial problems. The extended lockdowns have crippled the economy, costing the jobs and businesses of many Americans. Several studies have shown that extended unemployment often leads to higher rates of depression and suicide.
Unemployment is also a significant factor in substance abuse, as unemployed workers turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve stress. The lockdowns have also had adverse effects on recovering alcoholics, drug dependents, and people with eating disorders. Individuals in need of support were barred from having regular meetings, prompting higher stress levels and returning to their former practices.
Extensive lockdowns were never a part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) directive. Dr. David Nabarro, one of six envoys of the WHO’s Director-General regarding COVID-19, stated that lockdowns were only justified if they were meant to buy time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance resources, and protect overly-taxed health workers. Lockdowns were meant to flatten the curve during the onset of the pandemic and not a means of permanently controlling the spread of the virus. He further appealed to world leaders to stop using lockdowns as the primary method of control, pointing out that it hurts poor people the most.
The WHO proposed that when the transmission is under control (when the curve is flattened), tracing and isolating systems are in place, health facilities and nursing homes are protected, preventative measures are set in schools and workplaces, and the community knows how to protect itself, restrictions should be lifted.
The US doesn’t need months of lockdowns, and Americans are voicing their protest. Extended lockdowns were never the answer, and even the WHO decries them. Once the curve is flattened, and the most vulnerable are protected, people should be free to go about their day, albeit with a few minor guidelines.