A grieving father named Steve Combes described how his son died. “My son, age 30, died of fentanyl overdose in August in lockdown NJ. Could not attend 12 step meetings due to Governor’s lockdown orders. Isolation is a killer for recovering addicts.”
Choose your poison, I tweeted.
If you’re unemployed, behind on the rent, financially distressed, you don’t know when you might return to work, the $600 “stimulus” payment might not be too exciting. If you’re not able to work because your young children are at home while teachers’ union officials continue to receive fat paychecks for pressuring big city school boards into keeping schools closed, you’ll get no cheer from remote learning or mandatory COVID-19 testing for students.
If you’re in an assisted living facility, with no visitors, no contact with relatives, and barely any attention from an overstressed staff, you’re not enjoying the post-Christmas glow of love and warmth. That is, if you’re not already dying.
If you’re waiting for some life-saving surgery that’s considered “elective” and getting the cold-shoulder from hospital schedulers, while movie companies get exceptions and accommodations, you might question the priorities of the politicians making the decisions.
If you’re an addict, an alcoholic, or suffering from clinical depression, you have no meetings, no support groups, no human contact outside a Zoom meeting to get you through isolation. No church meetings, no 12-step programs. Healthline reports depression symptoms are three times higher during COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Results suggest that the rates of depression symptomatology are three times higher during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic,” said Dr. Brittany LeMonda, senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City. “Undoubtedly, there are many factors contributing to this increase in mood symptoms, including increased social isolation, economic hardships, and exposure to other stressors.”
If you had the misfortune of being locked up awaiting trial, or serving a prison sentence during COVID-19, you better hope you’re not suffering from one of the pre-existing conditions that spell doom, like diabetes or AIDS. While prison staff might get the vaccine first, you’re going to get it dead last.
If you’re the parent of a teenager who is cut off from sports, friends, school, and social events, trying to understand if your kid is merely displaying teenage sullenness or dangerous suicidal tendencies, you won’t get much help.
Jay Smith, of Brunswick, said his son, Spencer Smith, was having trouble coping with how much life has changed over the past several months.
“We knew he was upset because he was no longer able to participate in his school activities, football. We never guessed it was this bad,” Smith said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Looking back now we could see little things that we should have caught but we didn’t realize his mental health was deteriorating as bad.”
It’s wise for families to limit social events, and for companies to take precautions. But when governments totally isolate the most vulnerable among us from needed treatments, support, and a reason to keep living, the mortality rate and the toll taken is thousands of times more certain than the potential of COVID-19 to kill.
Depression is real. Suicide is real. Addiction kills. These deaths are far more certain in many cases than the possibility of dying from COVID-19. We have been far too cavalier in ignoring the vulnerable, and consigning them to a lonely, painful, and probable death.
When this is over, we are going to look back with grief and some regret at how the “cure” for this pandemic has sacrificed so many, whose deaths were so unnecessary and preventable.
Follow Steve on Twitter @stevengberman.
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