The Washigtnon Post - 03.04.2020

(Joyce) #1

friday, april 3 , 2020. the washington post eZ Re A

the coronavirus pandemic

echoed Gordon’s view that it’s
understandable for people to feel
a sense of stress.
“It’s also important to remem-
ber that the vast majority of
people, including all of us who
are experiencing difficulties
along the way, will ultimately do
well,” Morganstein said. “Finding
and sharing creative solutions to
the problems people are facing,
taking care of ourselves and our
families in the best way we are
able, and staying connected to
one another will remind us we
are in this together and help us
get through this difficult time.”
The poll is not a diagnostic tool
for surveying mental health. A
feeling of anxiety meets the crite-
ria for a disorder when it inter-
feres with normal functioning,
Gordon said, such as when “it
prevents people from being able
to go out to the store when they
need to buy groceries, or clean

their home, or get the mail, or
something like that.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation
poll found 57 percent of adults
said they’re worried they could be
exposed to the virus because they
can’t afford to miss work and
can’t stay home. That’s up from
35 percent two weeks earlier.
Fear of infection has dropped
slightly. Two weeks ago, 62 per-
cent of respondents said they
were worried someone in their
family will get sick with the virus,
and that declined to 53 percent —
a possible sign that people feel
the nationwide effort in social
distancing is lowering their
household risk.

scott Clement and emily guskin
contributed to this report.

 For a video, visit


Nearly half the people in the
United States feel the coronavi-
rus crisis is harming their mental
health, according to a survey
published Thursday that demon-
strates how the covid-19 pandem-
ic has escalated into a nationwide
psychological trauma.
The tracking poll by the Kaiser
Family Foundation, conducted
March 25 to 30, found that
45 percent of adults say the pan-
demic has affected their mental
health, and 19 percent say it has
had a “major impact.” The rates
are slightly higher among wom-
en, Hispanic adults and black
adults, the survey found.
The poll makes one thing clear:
If you’re scared, anxious, de-
pressed, struggling to sleep

through the night, or just on
edge, you’re not alone.
“It’s a huge number,” Kathy
HoganBruen, a Washington clini-
cal psychologist specializing in
anxiety disorders, said in re-
sponse to the poll results.
She added, “It’s not surprising
given all the other huge numbers
surrounding the pandemic in
terms of joblessness, and social
distancing, which can equal so-
cial isolation. And people dying.
People getting sick.... All of
these big numbers are going to
have an outsized impact on our
mental health collectively.”
Mental health experts say it’s
normal for people to be anxious
and worried amid a highly dis-
ruptive health emergency that is
shot through with uncertainties.
“Given the circumstances, feel-

ing anxious is part of a normal
response to what’s going on,” s aid
Joshua Gordon, director of the
National Institute of Mental
Health, after reviewing the poll
numbers Thursday.
He suggested some coping
mechanisms. A simple one: Write
down your fears, either on a piece
of paper or a computer.
“Just the act of writing them
down and stepping away from
them can really help you, number
one, crystallize what your con-
cerns are, and then number two,
leave them behind on the paper
or the computer file,” Gordon
“A nother way, of course, is to
communicate them to another
caring person. In sharing our
fears that has a number of effects.
You often learn that that caring

person also has those fears and
worries,” he said.
HoganBruen encouraged peo-
ple to try to cut down on negative
behaviors, such as excessive alco-
hol consumption or overeating,
and to focus on coping skills that
have worked in the past.
“Think about what makes you
feel better, what helps improve
your mental health and how you
can do that with such limited
resources right now. Think about
social support — how to access
friends and family online, to
reach out to people, and develop
new communities if you didn’t
have that before. How to get
exercise,” s he said.
Joshua Morganstein, chair of
the American Psychiatric Associ-
ation’s Committee on the Psychi-
atric Dimensions of Disaster,

In p oll, m ental health issues have spread widely — to about half of the U.S.

children under age 2 or anyone
who has trouble breathing or is
unconscious, incapacitated or
otherwise unable to remove the
cover without assistance, the
guidance states.
Deborah Birx, the White House
coronavirus response coordina-
tor, cautioned at Thursday’s brief-
ing that people should not get a
false sense of security from wear-
ing masks. She emphasized that
they are no substitute for social
distancing and frequent hand-
washing. People need to continue
to stay at least six feet away from
other p eople, s he said.
Separately, U.S. officials are
weighing a plan to distribute reus-
able cloth face masks — not medi-
cal masks — to U.S. households,
starting with locations hardest hit
by covid-19 the disease caused by
the novel coronavirus, according
to a federal official involved in the
response and documents shared
with The Post.
This week, CDC Director Rob-
ert Redfield confirmed in an inter-
view with NPR that the agency
was reviewing its guidelines be-
cause of new data showing trans-
mission from people who are in-
fected but show no symptoms.
The World Health Organiza-
tion, which has not recommended
masks for the general public, is
also reconsidering its guidance,
officials said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los An-
geles on Wednesday urged all resi-
dents t o wear homemade face cov-
erings, or even bandannas, when
food shopping or doing other es-
sential errands, after health offi-
cials in Riverside County, Calif.,
made a similar recommendation
on Tuesday.
The CDC’s memos have noted
that widespread public use of
masks is not culturally accepted
in the U nited States t he way it is in
many Asian countries, where face
coverings helped reduce the
spread of the v irus.
One memo drafted Thursday
noted t hat people “generate respi-
ratory aerosols when speaking,
coughing and sneezing” t hat can
be inhaled b y nearby individuals.
A CDC report last week on as-
ymptomatic infections among
residents at a nursing facility in
the Seattle area found that of 23
residents who tested positive for
the novel coronavirus, 13 were
asymptomatic or pre-symptomat-
ic on the day of testing.
Infectious-disease experts say
asymptomatic transmission may
be playing a larger role in the
outbreak than previously
thought, but just how big remains
unknown. Studies are underway
at t he CDC and elsewhere to better
understand such transmission.


The White House is expected to
urge Americans to begin wearing
cloth masks or face coverings in
public to help prevent the spread
of the novel coronavirus, in a re-
versal of earlier advice.
President Trump said Thurs-
day at a coronavirus task force
briefing that “a recommendation
is coming out” but “I don’t t hink i t
will be mandatory. If people want
to wear them, they can.” Vice Pres-
ident Pence, who heads the task
force, confirmed the g uidance will
be released in “coming days.”
Later, though, a White House
official, who spoke on the condi-
tion of anonymity to relate inter-
nal discussions, said that the ad-
ministration is considering guid-
ance that is “narrowly targeted to
areas with high community t rans-
mission” and that the matter re-
mains u nder discussion.
White House coronavirus task
force o fficials have been c onsider-

ing whether to recommend that
face coverings be routinely worn
in public because of increasing
evidence that infected people
without symptoms can spread the
virus, according to internal mem-
os and new guidance provided to
the White House by the Centers
for Disease Control and Preven-
“In light of these new data,
along with evidence of wide-
spread transmission in communi-
ties across the country, CDC rec-
ommends the community use of
cloth masks as an additional pub-
lic health measure people can take
to prevent the spread of virus to
those around them,” according to
the guidance, a copy of which was
obtained by The Washington Post.
The recommendations repre-
sent a major change in CDC guid-
ance that healthy people don’t
need masks or face coverings. The
memos and guidance make clear
the coverings under discussion
are not medical masks, such as
N95 respirators or surgical face

White House expected

to urge people to cover

their faces in public

masks, which are needed by front-
line health-care workers and are
in extremely short supply. Those
must continue to be reserved for
health-care workers and other
first responders, they say.
The memos and guidance were
drafted in recent days by the CDC
and sent to officials at t he Depart-
ment of Health and Human Ser-
vices and the White House coro-
navirus task force for consider-
ation of masks as an additional
measure to slow the p andemic.

Simple cloth masks that cover
the mouth and nose can prevent
virus transmission from people
who are infected but have no
symptoms when they must go i nto
public settings, such as grocery
stores, the guidance states. It
makes clear the cloth covering is
not intended to protect t he wearer
but to prevent the spread of the
virus f rom the wearer to others.
It noted the face coverings
could be made at home at a low
cost. They should not be used on

toni L. sandys/the Washington Post
Cecily Habimana, the owner of Sew Creative Lounge in Mount
Rainier, Md., makes cotton face masks on Thursday.

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