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This is how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting romance, anxiety, health, and racism

This is how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting romance, anxiety, health, and racism
[Photo: Eric Antunes/Pexels]

Want to know how your lockdown is going compared to everyone else’s? A sobering survey of 4,149 people by 11 researchers at Chapman University sheds light on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all, and the impact is enormous:

  • Mental health: It’s one big downer. Nearly half (47%) report feeling trapped at home, and three-fifths feel more stressed, nervous, anxious, or on edge. Almost half (45%) feel more down, depressed, or hopeless. This dovetails with other reports of widespread upticks in mental health challenges. Over half (54%) are “very concerned” about catching COVID-19. Numbers are higher among essential workers such as grocery clerks and delivery people.
  • Eating and exercise: Not good for many. Over a third say that they are stress eating more; 41% report eating more junk food, and 35% say they are getting less exercise.
  • Romance: As always, relationships swing both ways. Of people in long-term relationships, one-quarter reported having fewer arguments with their partner in the past week, while one-quarter reported having more arguments than normal. (57% say they “yell or scream at partner about the same as normal.”) So much for the COVID-19 baby boom: Only 19% report having sex more often than normal, while 61% say sexual relations are typical.
  • Racism: It’s ugly. One-quarter of Chinese Americans say they have experienced three or more racist incidents including rude comments, feeling unwelcome, being told to “go back” to their country, or physical threats. One-third of Asian Americans and 38% of Chinese Americans reported at least one incident of racism. These incidents correlated with greater stress, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and negative emotions, as well as a number of heath symptoms.

“I am troubled by these findings,” said coauthor Jason Douglas, assistant professor of public health, of the racist incidents. “We need clear and consistent messaging to indicate that viral pandemics do not stem from our ethnocultural minority communities. Rather, residents living in disadvantaged, ethnocultural minority communities are at greater risk for COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality due to long-standing systemic inequities that unfairly limit access to health-protective resources.”

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