By the end of the first week of March, twenty deaths in the United States had been linked to COVID-19. By the end of that month, Governor Tom Wolf (and many governors across the nation) instated a stay-at-home order. Now, in mid-August, there are nearly 24 million confirmed cases globally, with almost 5.7 million of those cases being in the United States, and as of this writing, 176,645 deaths in the United States.
Quarantine, combined with the increased anxiety and uncertainty, makes for a powerful impact on mental health. Jobs and entire industries are experiencing losses, the economy is shaky, and there is no end in sight, even though there are many efforts across the globe to discover a vaccine.
Mental Health Impact
It's important to not underestimate the effect of the pandemic on mental health, especially in countries like the United States, where there is more uncertainty around health care due to its connection to employment.
According to a survey of 5,400 people by the CDC (completed in June), 31 percent of respondents said they'd experienced anxiety or depression, 26 percent indicated that they'd experienced a trauma disorder, such as PTSD. The survey also showed symptoms of anxiety were three times as high as at the same time in 2019, and symptoms of depression were four times as high. That is a significant increase and does not even touch upon any of the challenges of being in close quarters for so long.
Overall Crime Trends
Overall, during the pandemic, crime rates dropped; however, gun violence has increased. At the University of Pennsylvania, Professor David Abrams is tracking crime rates across 27 major cities and has found an average of a 23% percent decline in crime across those cities. Other researchers have found similar results; however, time will tell the long-term impact. The one area that continues to rise is gun violence. As of mid-August, there have been 388 mass shootings across the nation; For comparison, in 2019, the total number of mass shootings was 417. More than four months remain in the year, and there have already been 93% of the mass shootings that occurred a year ago. Additionally, there has also been an increase in domestic violence concerns.
As uncertainty prevails and mask orders are enforced around the nation, crimes involving gun violence have increased. Over the Fourth of July weekend, there were more than500 individuals wounded and 160 individuals killed. The Guardian reported that “The Trace, a non-profit news website covering gun violence in the US, which tallied the weekend toll of shootings in the US, reported that preliminary research from the University of California, Davis, has found a potential link between the rise in violence and a surge in gun-buying during the coronavirus pandemic, of more than 2.1 million more guns than usual between March and May.” Many of the gun incidents involved individuals who were unhappy with the request to wear a mask. For example, a woman at a McDonalds allegedly shot an employee who asked the customer to leave as the dining area was closed.
If COVID-19 has affected your mental health and you've been charged with a crime, an experienced criminal lawyer can assist you with your case. Joseph Lento has comprehensive knowledge of how a criminal case operates throughout the entire process and many years of experience defending clients and fighting for their rights. If you have questions, give us a call at 888-535-3686 or contact us online today.