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NIHCM Newsletter / August 2020

COVID-19: Concerns about Reopening Schools

The CDC published guidelines to help schools and administrators reopen safely. Child health experts around the country acknowledge the difficulties that schools will face when reopening and how returning kids could spread the virus. A recent survey found that 70% of parents believe it is risky for schools to reopen in the fall, with Black and Hispanic parents voicing more concerns than their white counterparts.

School shutdowns in the spring have likely saved tens of thousands of lives from COVID-19, but closing schools harms children’s health, economic well-being and the academic achievement of children in the short and long-term.

  • A McKinsey report shows how school shutdowns could exacerbate existing achievement gaps due to greater learning loss among low-income, Black and Hispanic students.
  • When schools and daycares closed, 40% of parents lost income due to the increased child care responsibilities. 72% of parents said the government has not done enough to help with child care challenges; so, they have needed to improvise.
    • Only 32% of companies that are returning to work have plans for employees’ child-care needsm even as many schools postpone reopening full time.

Programs are focusing on children and families’ needs in response to the pandemic:

Housing Insecurity is a Growing Problem

The rental housing crisis was growing before the pandemic, leaving many of America’s renters vulnerable when coronavirus hit. Now a cliff is approaching for millions of American renters as eviction protections expire.

The economic downturn and eviction crisis could also lead to an increase in the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, with one researcher projecting a 40-45% increase this year. This will add to the challenges of managing the spread of COVID-19, as experiencing homelessness can worsen existing health problems, cause new ones and make treating all conditions more challenging.

  • NIHCM produced an infographic on the health challenges faced by the homeless and efforts to improve the health and well-being of these individuals, through social, economic and housing interventions.
  • NIHCM convened a panel of experts from Independence Blue Cross Foundation, National Health Care for the Homeless Council and True Colors United to discuss the state of homelessness in the US and its critical impact on health and provided strategies to improve outcomes for homeless individuals.

A new study found that 81 million persons, living in 25 million homes, live in units that are unsuitable for isolation or quarantine. Compared to white individuals, Native American and Hispanic individuals are 2 to 3 times more likely to occupy unsuitable units, while Black and Asian persons are 1.7 times more likely.

COVID-19's Ongoing Impact on Mental Health & SUD

The pandemic continues to impact mental health and 53% of adults now say that stress and worry related to the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.

People with substance use disorders (SUD) are at greater risk of worse COVID-19 outcomes and there has been an increase in relapses due to the stressors of the pandemic.

Interventions are necessary to support individuals struggling with mental illness and SUD:

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