Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2021 - 10

M e d i c a l R ec o r d F e a t u r e

Collateral
Damage

Indirect Effects
of the Pandemic

Editor's introduction: The coronavirus pandemic has killed 1.3
million plus people around the world and sickened over 55 million (as
of Nov. 16). In the U.S., just over 250,000 deaths have been attributed
to COVID 19 so far and close to 11.4 million Americans have been
diagnosed. In addition to the direct impacts of the pandemic on
COVID 19 patients, the toll on our health care system and those who
work to provide medical care has been staggering. But these numbers
do not tell the whole story of this public health catastrophe - not by a
long shot. Physicians are well aware of the 'collateral damage' to public
health inflicted by the circumstances of the pandemic.
This collateral damage takes many forms, including the effects of
care delayed due to patient reluctance to venture into a hospital or office
for fear of contracting the virus and due to temporary holds placed on
care for all but immediately life-threatening conditions in the early days
of the pandemic. The need to limit close contact with other people
has had a devastating impact on the mental health of a large number of
people. Social isolation-- among vulnerable groups in particular-- and
limited access to in-person support for those suffering from substance
use disorder and other behavioral health problems has taken a heavy
toll not reflected in the infection counts. For many Americans, job
loss caused by the economic fallout of the pandemic has meant loss of
health insurance. Some people with easy access to safe outdoor spaces
such as parks have increased time devoted to exercise, but those without
such access may have been forced to exercise less. And being stuck at
home much of the time has led to unwanted and unhealthy weight gain
for more than a few.
To increase awareness of these secondary effects of the pandemic,
and of the strategies physicians have devised to combat them, we asked
some BCMS members to respond to a few questions.

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Winter 2021

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