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By Chloe Anagnos:
As America nears the end of a messy election process, COVID-19 remains a hot topic. But as concerns regarding the potential dangers associated with the virus vary greatly depending on what side of the political spectrum you find yourself in, there’s yet another related aspect that has caused a great debate: the effects of lockdowns.
As more information comes in, we’re better equipped to understand how far the effects of these lockdowns go. Below are four ways lockdowns are impacting young people in America.
1. Lockdowns Brew Political Divisions
Whereas President Donald Trump has long been an advocate for less restrictions, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden seems to take the opposite route.
Not only does he see lockdowns as a must, but he also promises to push for federal mask mandates, believing that a stroke of his pen will be enough to force 328 million people to cover their faces until “COVID is under control.”
Moreover, according to research from the Brookings Institute, political party support is usually the most important variable in explaining attitudes and behaviors surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to overstate the risks of death to young people, whereas Republicans are more likely to mistakenly believe that the flu is more deadly than COVID, as Zacc Ritter of Gallup has reported.
By politicizing the pandemic and turning it into a means to restricting Americans’ freedoms, politicians further deepened the ideological gap between left and right, prompting many to call for a definitive end to the country as we know it.
But consolidating tribal feelings among the population isn’t the only negative consequence of widespread lockdowns.
2. Mental Health on Decline
Since mid-March, states have implemented stay-at-home orders to various degrees. By labeling businesses as “essential” and “non-essential,” state officials forced many businesses to shut down. But as business owners who dared to go against state orders were slapped with fines and even imprisonment, other businesses managed to survive — even if in a limited capacity and only after laying workers off.
In some cases, workers were told they could carry out their business from home, prompting many to wonder if the then growing work-from-home trend was going to accelerate.
Employees who were suddenly thrust into this type of environment showed mixed reviews.
Some loved it, claiming they felt more connected to their family, less stressed, and more likely to become more efficient. Others reported that things were not looking up.
In some cases, people saw an increase in negative behavior while others reported difficulty dealing with addiction, depression, and other mental issues.
According to an August survey of workers who were forced to work from home due to the pandemic, 55 percent of workers said that they were struggling with burnout with more than half of the respondents saying that working from home actually increased their workload.
Additionally, 39 percent of respondents said that working from home made it more difficult for them to balance work and personal life, worsening their mental health state.
Perhaps things would have been different if businesses had been allowed to deal with the pandemic on their own, but lockdowns imposed working arrangements on people who were simply not mentally prepared for them.
3. Shopping Therapy Is Turning Into an Addiction
Among workers forced to lock up in their homes during most of the pandemic, many reported that dealing with previous addictions or mental health issues while locked away proved ambitious. But even otherwise healthy people found themselves struggling with isolation, as time away from family and friends helped to turn them into shopping addicts.
According to a CouponLawn.com survey, out of the 1,100 U.S. work-from-home workers who participated at least 63 percent claim they overspend while working exclusively from home. Additionally, 48 percent said they feel their overspending habit has become a problem that may require therapy.
The average weekly spending of respondents gravitated between $277.54 for Gen Z to $331.36 for Gen X workers, the group that tends to spend the most while working from home. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, spend an average of $223.90 weekly, the group with the lowest spending overall.
If anything, this shows that different environments may have changed their daily routine a lot, making them more likely to rely on retail therapy as a coping mechanism. Boredom or perhaps the overreliance on the Internet due to social distancing mandates may have also played a role.
Whatever the reason, the fact is that working from home is a legitimate way to get things done. To some, however, being forced to work from home without much training became a source of stress.
4. Lockdowns and Children: More Suicide Attempts
In California, medical professionals told reporters they were seeing more patients being rushed to the hospital due to suicide attempts during the lockdown than COVID-19. In Georgia, hospitals such as Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta have seen a 25 percent rise in trauma cases during the lockdown, many involving “penetrating trauma” such as gunshot wounds and “blunt force trauma” such as falls.
But the stress caused by stay-at-home orders isn’t just impacting adults — children are also suffering.
As public school officials still discuss whether schools should open for in-person training, doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, told reporters they are seeing an “alarming” rise in suicide patients, especially in August.
While the desire to save lives that may be gravely impacted by COVID is understandable, there seems to have been a lack of consideration regarding lives that were directly and abruptly changed due to the lockdowns.
Failing to factor in the suffering of the young is suddenly becoming costly.
To millennials and zoomers complaining that their new work-from-home habits are hurting their pocketbook, the thought that the government might implement another lockdown might sound terrifying. After all, the U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate in the first three months of the year, while all the while over 100,000 small businesses were forced to shut down due to the COVID lockdowns are now reported to be permanently closed.
With workers seeing changes described as temporary becoming the “new normal,” their financial and career prospects will certainly suffer. In many cases, they might have to continue to work from home for a much longer period of time.
What should we expect to see as they witness their income shrink?
More anxiety? Depression? Suicide attempts?
Officials might have a real reason to worry about pandemics, but using government force to restrict businesses, even those whose customers are willing to do business despite the potential health risks, is clearly immoral.
As government officials use the sanctity of life as an excuse to keep people from living their lives, we lose people to hopelessness. And perhaps that alone proves that lockdowns are simply not worth it.