U.S. passes 500k deaths, new variant and mental health of frontline workers

by Kristine Aramyan

The coronavirus is continuing to spread rapidly, but the new strain found in the U.K. may become more transmissible here. How could the new variant affect individuals who have received their vaccines? LA Times reports an alarming news that the, “new research strongly suggests that the coronavirus strain now dominant in California not only spreads more readily than its predecessors, but also has the ability to evade antibodies generated by COVID-19 vaccines or prior infection. It’s also associated with more severe illness and death”.

It is incumbent that we mask up and social distance as we prepare for the new variant, which could possibly be a setback in California’s road to recovery.

According to Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 has killed more than two million people, worldwide.

U.S. News reports that, “the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000 Monday, a staggering number that all but matches the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined”.

Could California go through another lockdown? As Los Angeles eases restrictions, we must call on both officials and constituents within our communities to cautiously approach any openings, with safety measures properly set in place that follow CDC guidelines.

Frontline workers are facing mental health challenges and burnout rates are soaring. In an article by Cambridge University, the study finds that 127 medical residents report, “symptoms of depression (42.5%), anxiety (41.7%) and stress (30.7%)“. It is crucial to make sure our frontline workers are also being cared for.

Another study published by Dr. Ayanian finds that, “frontline health care workers caring directly for patients with COVID-19 reported higher levels of severe mental health symptoms than those in secondary roles. In adjusted analyses, women were significantly more likely than men to report severe symptoms of depression, anxiety, and psychological distress“. We must make sure our frontline workers are also protected by supplying PPE to hospitals who are running low. It is crucial that we give our attention to the frontline workers who have been non-stop battling COVID-19. Without a doubt, it is important to assure that our frontline workers, who are experiencing symptoms of emotional distress or need someone to speak with, are receiving the support that they need.

To all the heroes in healthcare and non-healthcare essential workers who continue to put themselves in the frontlines so bravely, in the face of adversity – thank you. We recognize the efforts that frontline workers are so selflessly devoting to us and our loved ones by working tirelessly to protect our communities in some of the darkest days in recent history.

The COVID-19 vaccines bring hope to the UCLA community. (Alice Zhang/UCLA Student Media, Daily Bruin)

The COVID-19 vaccines bring hope to the UCLA community. (Alice Zhang/UCLA Student Media, Daily Bruin)

The individuals who lost their lives to the virus are not just a statistic. Every life lost was a human being with loved ones, who had aspirations and dreams. It is devastating and heartbreaking to be in the position that we are, in a country like the U.S. We must continue to remember the lives that were so tragically lost in the pandemic. We must continue to work together in combatting this virus and we must be resilient in facing such challenging times.

Unfortunately, there are still individuals who refuse to wear a mask. Mitigation efforts seem to be politicized and often completely dismissed. Such individuals advocate for the right to refuse to wear a mask, claiming it violates their constitutional rights and prolonging the pandemic as a result.

We must continue to remain perseverant as a community in order to overcome this disaster. Mask up and social distance. It is not worth losing a loved one.

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