Monday, 23 May, 2022
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40% of US adults know someone who died of COVID

With the USA poised to reach the milestone this month of 1m official deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of American adults say they know one or more people who have died of the disease, according to a survey released last week.

That included 20% who knew one person who had died from the virus, 13% who knew two, and 7% who said they knew three or more, according to the survey conducted by the COVID-19 Consortium for Understanding the Public’s Policy Preferences Across States, which includes Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers, and Northwestern universities.

The Boston Globe reports that Dr Roy Perlis, a professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of a report on the consortium survey, said that it “helps to put numbers to how massive the loss has been”.

“When we talk about the total number of deaths approaching a particular milestone, that we’re coming up on a million people, it’s kind of hard to put that into context and to remember it’s people’s family, co-workers, and friends. You start to realise those million deaths impact an awful lot of people,” he said.

The survey involved 18,103 adults from the 50 states and the District of Columbia in March 2022, researchers said. Results were released last week. It was one of a series of surveys the consortium has been conducting since April 2020, probing attitudes and behaviours regarding COVID-19 in the United States.

The survey also asked respondents a series of standard questions that can be used to assess whether someone is depressed. The survey found that 27% of adults reported moderate or greater symptoms of depression, a level at which a primary care doctor would typically refer someone for more evaluation and treatment. The most recent rate was “generally similar” to rates previously seen in the pandemic, which would have been far above the 8% measured before the pandemic, the researchers said.

“I had hoped that by now these numbers would be coming down,” Perlis said. “It is disappointing to see that these numbers have stayed really at numbers that are unprecedented, at least in recent times.”

Other findings were that black and Hispanic adults are more likely than others to know someone who died of COVID-19 (46% and 45%, respectively, versus 38% for white and 36% for Asian respondents), and that rates of depression are highest among those aged 18-24, lowest among those 65 and older.

The researchers found that rates of depression varied substantially by state, from a low of 20% to a high of 32%. Interestingly, they remain highest among those who identify politically as Independents, followed by Democrats and then Republicans.

They said there are two hopeful observations in their data. First, while rates of depression remain higher among adults in households with children compared with those without, this difference has progressively diminished, and is now less than 5%.

And second, rates of suicidal thoughts have steadily diminished since May 2021, although nearly 1 in 5 adults (19%) still reports such thoughts.




The Boston Globe article – Survey finds 4 in 10 American adults who know someone who died of Covid-19 (Restricted access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


JAMA study: 35% of excess US deaths tied to causes other than COVID-19


Confronting America's next national health disaster: long-haul COVID-19


A divided US faces a pandemic entering its deadliest phase


Many post-COVID patients get new medical problems, US study finds



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