Social distancing and staying home have proven essential for flattening the coronavirus curve and minimizing harm from the virus, but research shows that these unprecedented guidelines to match our unprecedented times may negatively impact mental and physical health among Americans.
According to a study in The Lancet, symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anger, and heightened stress may come as side effects of the nation-wide quarantine, and they may be long-lasting. Stressors for symptoms of poor mental health include lack of resources (medical and otherwise), extended quarantining, fears surrounding the virus, monetary loss, stigmatization of the illness, and boredom. Lack of information and quarantining with no end in sight are also risk factors for declining mental health.
Health workers putting in long, grueling hours are heavily affected.
But COVID-19 is unique in the high degree to which it also affects Americans behind the front lines. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network warns that, while the need for social distancing guidelines in this country is quite apparent, the effects of social isolation and being home bound could contribute to heightened suicide and overdose rates in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, racial minorities, particularly black and Hispanic people, are more likely to live in densely populated areas due to the effects of institutional racism and/or housing segregation.
Because of this, they may have a harder time socially distancing.
Almost a quarter of black and Hispanic workers are in the service industry or employed by businesses deemed essential during the quarantine, meaning they’re at higher risk of coming into contact with the virus.
These factors, combined with the healthcare disadvantages racial minorities face due to decreased access, could in part explain why black and Hispanic Americans are disproportionately affected and killed by COVID-19. The CDC said it is working to address these racial disparities, according to its page, COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups.
Tanya Shah, vice president of the Commonwealth Fund, said that isolation isn’t just a social issue, but something that affects mental and physical health as well. She started researching social isolation, particularly in adults, about three years ago, and the Fund has been working to raise awareness of this issue in terms of the policy, research, and screening ever since.
Isolation has a large impact on mortality and morbidity, according to Shah.
“We need to be paying attention to social isolation,” Shah said in an interview with Capital News Service. “Just like we ask if you’re a smoker or how many drinks you have a week, we need to be asking about your social structural context, because it has such a tremendous impact on health or vice versa. How your health changes have a huge impact on how you’re able to connect with others.”
Lack of social connection and a solid support system can contribute not just to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, but also to cardiovascular risks and decreased cognitive and physical function. These risk factors overlap a lot with those of COVID-19, Shah said.
“Social isolation really means… a structural construct of being alone,” she said. “Not everyone who is socially isolated would say they’re lonely… Loneliness is more than a perception of being isolated, but they’re very interrelated.”
This isn’t to say that isolating isn’t essential to flattening the COVID-19 curve. Shah said that the elderly, poor, and sick people are the most at risk of contracting the virus because they’re more likely to live in intergenerational dwellings or to have to continue working to provide for the family.
44% of women over 75 living alone and 50% of low-income people who report suffering from loneliness are at a higher risk of suffering from social isolation, Shah said.
One in four non-institutionalized older adults reports feeling socially isolated. Together, these groups constitute tens of millions of Americans, according to Shah.
When social distancing and the subsequent loss of social support are added into the equation, these individuals are more at risk for serious health issues and 25% more at risk dying prematurely.
Shah said some research indicates that being socially isolated, whether from a group a person was once active in, like a church, or from loss of contact with healthcare providers, can be as or more harmful to health than smoking, obesity or physical inactivity.
Isolation-related illnesses also are not confined to the most at-risk groups.
“To be honest, we have not, in modern scientific history, experienced a pandemic of this proportion with these types of measures of physical distancing and social isolation and sheltering in place,” Shah said.
There are some hints from past pandemics, though.
A couple of studies done on SARS survivors a year after the 2003 outbreak found evidence of still-elevated levels of stress and psychological distress, especially among healthcare workers.
Quarantined Liberians during the Ebola epidemic from 2013 to 2016 said stigma related to the illness led to the exclusion and disenfranchisement of minority groups in the country. Many who were quarantined may have avoided seeking medical help for treatable, non-Ebola-related illnesses out of fear of further stigmatization, according to The Lancet.
Mental health has long been under-resourced in this country, according to Shah, who added that benefits should be expanded to pay for these types of services.
“Mental health services need to play a much bigger role in our response efforts as well as in our rehabilitation in the longer-term post this pandemic… The research shows it’s a long-term impact, not just the six weeks or the three months that we have to be socially isolated,” Shah said. “We definitely need to be doing more.”
Abiding by social distancing guidelines doesn’t mean people have to be lonely, experts say. There are some precautions people can take in order to care for themselves in the short term, but larger, more systemic changes must take place to deal with bigger picture issues presented by the pandemic.
Go for walks, FaceTime friends, or talk to neighbors (from a safe distance), experts recommend.
The Washington State Department of Health recommends that individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, or other symptoms of poor mental health should avoid watching distressing news coverage of the virus when possible.
Health experts also advise people to structure their days and keep to a routine, especially those who are prone to depression or anxiety. The more life in quarantine reflects normal life, the better, they say.
Go to the following links. For help dealing with coronavirus anxieties: virusanxiety.com. For advice on helping others who may be struggling: mentalhealthfirstaid.org. For other support services, including suicide prevention: sprc.org.
By ANNA HOVEY
Capital News Service
Outgoing president distributes a final round of Front Royal Rotary awards
In his penultimate meeting as president of the Rotary Club of Front Royal, Derrick Leisure presented another $7,600 in gifts to eight non-profits and announced that a recent annual golf tournament for the club’s scholarship winners had sent $15,000 to the bank for next year’s group of high school applicants.
At the June 18 meeting, Leisure also singled out a group of fellow Rotarians for personal thanks, including next year’s president, Katie McIntyre, who partnered with Ken Evans on the successful golf tournament project last month.
Leisure steps down Friday, June 25, during a special luncheon function at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club.
Remaining in Leisure’s bucket list of successful applicants for funds were Warren County DARE program, $500; Warren County Little League softball, $100; Blue Ridge Arts Council, $1,000; Front Royal/Warren County C-CAP, $500; Samuel’s Library, $1,000; Warren County Educational Endowment, $1,000; Warren Heritage Society, $1,000; and United Way of Front Royal/Warren County, $2,500.
A community’s musical sub-culture rallies around one of its own
It was a musical and social community coming together in support of one of its own on Father’s Day, June 20, 2021, at Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Virginia Beer Museum. The father and long-time musical fixture at the center of the event was James Vaughan, drummer in a series of family-grounded bands over four decades based out of Front Royal. Vaughan, whose current band is Aftershock with brother Duane (aka Dewey), daughter Reno, cousin Dean Smith, guitarist Doug Hess, and Lenny Barnhart on the chessboard, vocals and keyboards, is recovering from a series of two strokes suffered April 30.
Sunday’s benefit show, silent auctions and other fundraising efforts featuring what was advertised as a dozen musical acts, give or take, was to help defer medical costs associated with James’ stroke. But even more so as the event billed “Front Royal’s Woodstock” progressed from 1 p.m. to slightly after 9 p.m., it seemed an expression of affection and concern for an integral part of the local musical arts community.
“This is like a high school reunion, except with people you WANT to hang out with,” was one description of the myriad familiar faces with perhaps a few more years on them than the last time you encountered them on or off stage.
James brother Dewey made a point of thanking all the involved musicians for the time, talent and energy they contributed to the event. He also acknowledged the large turnout of friends, fans and patrons that made the fundraising aspect what he called “very successful”. Included among those friends and patrons Caterer Will Bryan of “So Mote it Beef” also provided exquisite beef brisket at no charge, with cash contributions going to the fundraising effort for his brother, Dewey noted.
This story will be updated if additional ID or other information becomes available – and don’t forget to scroll down beyond the ads, there are 39 more photos attached to this story:
Traffic Delays Expected – Happy Creek Roadway Project (VDOT)
Residents and visitors are advised that Happy Creek Road, from the Town of Front Royal limits east to the railroad crossing near Dismal Hollow Road, is now closed to local traffic only. Dismal
Hollow Road will remain open and accessible from the east side of Happy Creek Road / Low Water Bridge / and Howellsville Road.
VDOT anticipates Norfolk Southern (NS) will begin railroad crossing work sometime between Monday, July 5, and Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Norfolk Southern will attempt to minimize the amount of time the crossing is physically impassible during construction; however, residents should be mindful that such closure requires careful planning for all emergency responses, which will be approached as if the crossing is impassible at that time.
The Warren County Emergency Communications Center Emergency (ECC) will continually monitor the situation to provide the best coordination for fire, rescue, and law enforcement response to the area impacted by the construction. The ECC will maintain contact with the on-site VDOT inspector during the project, as appropriate.
(Press Release, Warren County Sheriff’s Office)
Newcomer florist arrives in town, takes over Fussell Florist from retiree Betty Showers
Front Royal flower lady Betty Showers called it quits Thursday, June 17, handing over the ownership papers of her flower shop, Front Royal Fussell Florist, to new owner Katie Bonnet who will reopen for business on Monday, June 21.
Showers, who has owned and operated the popular store at the corner of East 2nd Street and Commerce Avenue since December 2002, has a busy retirement schedule planned, including considerable travel around far flung relatives before settling in to quieter times with husband Steve at their 18th Street home. In all, she has enjoyed a total of 30 years in the flower business in Front Royal.
Meanwhile, Bonnet, 27, and husband of four years, Daniel, an engineer, have settled into a downtown condominium while shopping around for a house in the area. Bonnet described a family interest in her store. Her parents, Mary and Chris O’Donnell, moved into the area with their daughter from Fairfax County, recently buying a house in nearby Middletown.
As described by Katie in an interview, the parents own the store and lease it to her, making it a family enterprise.
Despite her young age, Bonnet comes with experience as a floral designer having worked at Burke Florist in Fairfax, at the same time completing a degree in business from George Mason University.
Warmly attractive, Bonnet describes a future at her new store to include a small café, confessing that “hospitality” is the name of the game for her in future business. “It is a large part of my heart,” she said.
According to Showers, Front Royal Fussell Florist has been part of downtown commerce in Front Royal since September 1948 when Thomas F. Fussell opened the original store at 122 South Royal Avenue. It has flourished under several owners over the years, with the same name. It will continue as Fussell’s Florist with Katie Bonnet.
As for Betty Showers, she isn’t giving up lightly. After her travels, she vows to get a part-time job in town, maybe even returning to help out Katie if needed during the busy, holiday times. Also, she will remain active in the community gardens activity that provides all manner of vegetables to needy citizens. As for another run in politics? Not ever, she vows, after a first unsuccessful dip into town politics in 2019.
Royal Examiner wishes Betty “a happy retirement” and her successor, Katie, a warm welcome to Front Royal and “much success in your business endeavor.”
Warren County Habitat for Humanity is looking for a new Executive Director
The Warren County Habitat for Humanity, Inc. is looking for a new Executive Director. The role of the executive director is to develop, administer, coordinate, manage, and implement the policies and procedures as developed and approved by the Board of Directors of Warren County Habitat for Humanity, Inc.
The Executive Director will be responsible for:
• Holding chief administrative responsibility for public accountability of the affiliate
• Administering and managing the daily operations of the Habitat office
• Authorizing expenditures within Board-approved guidelines
• Assisting Treasurer in preparing the annual budget
• Establishing regular office hours and supervising office staff and volunteers
• Overseeing proper maintenance of records and files to ensure confidentiality and legal compliance
Fundraising and Public Relations
• Assisting the Board and Development Committee in developing and implementing its fundraising plan and budget
• Working with Public Relations Committee in developing and implementing a public awareness strategy
• Representing Warren County Habitat to interested communities, churches, businesses, groups, foundations, and community leaders
• Assisting with grant proposal writing
• Serving as the primary communication link among the regional office, board members, committees, staff, families in waiting, homeowner families, and volunteers
• Assisting with the orientation of new board members and volunteers
The Executive Director will report to the President of the Board of Directors.
Experience in non-profit administration and fundraising is essential. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are required. Applicant must be a self-starter who has the ability to interact well with partner families, board and committee members, and the community at large. Flexibility in work hours and computer knowledge is important.
This is a full-time position of approximately 28- 34 hours of work each week at the Habitat office during regular business hours (Mon – Fri, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm) plus an additional 6-12 hours of evening and weekend work. Occasional travel is required. Benefits include one week of paid vacation, prorated pay for federal holidays, mileage reimbursed at IRS rate, compensatory time may be available with prior approval of an officer of the Board, and training reimbursement for approved training or classes.
Interested? Contact Board President Amanda Slate
Visit their website for more information about Warren County Habitat for Humanity.
VDOT: Warren County Traffic alert for June 21 – 25, 2021
The following is a list of highway work that may affect traffic in Warren County during the coming weeks. Scheduled work is subject to change due to inclement weather and material supplies. Motorists are advised to watch for slow-moving tractors during mowing operations. When traveling through a work zone, be alert to periodic changes in traffic patterns and lane closures.
*NEW* or *UPDATE* indicates a new entry or a revised entry since last week’s report.
*NEW* Mile marker 0 to 8, eastbound and westbound – Possible shoulder closures for litter-pickup operations, Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound and westbound – Overnight alternating shoulder closures for roadside weed control, 8 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Mile marker 0 to 15, eastbound – Right shoulder closures for shoulder repairs, Tuesday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
*NEW* Mile marker 7 to 6, westbound – Alternating lane closures for inspection of bridge over Crooked Run, Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
No lane closures reported.
No lane closures reported.
Route 624 (Happy Creek Road) – Road closed June 19-August 6 between Front Royal eastern town limits and Route 647 (Dismal Hollow Road) for a safety improvement project. Follow posted detour. Estimated project completion December 10.
Vegetation management may take place district-wide on various routes. Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution when traveling through work zones.
Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Traffic alerts and traveler information also are available at www.511Virginia.org.
The VDOT Customer Service Center can assist with reporting road hazards, asking transportation questions, or getting information related to Virginia’s roads. Call 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623) or use its mobile-friendly website at my.vdot.virginia.gov. Agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.