Monday, May 17, 2021

Now the road to community immunity begins

Full community immunity may rely on outreach.


The first 90 million Americans to get vaccinated may be the easy part. Now begins the long road to reach 75%, at which herd immunity (I like the term community immunity much better) can be reached. But now it turns out according to a study from Brown University that the problem may not be hardened hearts but lack of information about where to get vaccinated and how and by whom.

In other words, don't overthink things.


Stefanie Friedhoff is a professor of the practice in health services, policy, and practice as well as strategy director at Brown University School of Public Health.


She writes in her blog:


"I lead a team at Brown University School of Public Health that is undertaking new research in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and community organizations across the U.S. to understand people’s experiences regarding vaccination, public health, and the health care system more generally, rather than just their intentions about this specific vaccine. What we have learned so far from this survey, fielded by HIT Strategies in communities of color in five U.S. cities, is telling: Even though a majority of Black and Latino Americans want to get vaccinated — 72% in this survey — a surprising 63% said they didn’t have enough information about where to get the shot. In addition, more than 20% said they had regularly been treated with disrespect when getting health care in the past, and 20% said they have had trouble finding health care when needed.


"Despite these systemic barriers, only 3% of the total sample said that nothing at all would move them to get the Covid-19 vaccine.


"Everyone else, even those who said 'no' to getting a vaccine now, listed reasons that would motivate them to get a shot, such as 'seeing a person I trust get the vaccine' or having 'a vaccination site close to my home.'


"In fact, 'having more information' is the single most important concern expressed by those unsure about the Covid-19 vaccine, according to almost every poll that asks this question. This is true across the political spectrum. Blaming conservative Americans for taking their time or for believing lies, and labeling them as hesitant or resisters only hardens their viewpoints. Instead, the public health community needs to come to grips with what motivates people, and also with the harmful impact of misinformation on Americans who do not have access to quality information.


"It’s still a long road to getting most Americans vaccinated against Covid-19. It can be shortened by worrying less about today’s confidence polls and more about persistent barriers to vaccination. The health and public health communities need to continue the hard work of making vaccines ubiquitous and available without complex sign-up procedures — at churches, grocery stores, barber shops, food pantries, and yes, even in bars and restaurants.


"People’s questions must be answered and false narratives preempted by flooding online and offline spaces with high-quality information in the languages people speak on the platforms they frequent. Concerted effort is needed to expose misinformation tactics and how they are unleashed to generate confusion, as well as to regulate the platforms that empower them.


"For most Americans — and that includes conservatives — who are given the chance to discuss vaccination on their own terms and timelines and for whom vaccination is easy, nearby, and supported by employers, the question shifts from if they will get vaccinated to when and how."


Learn more about the vaccine, about Covid-19 and about public health in this new book:




Friday, May 14, 2021

52 years later: Separate and unequal, still

President Lyndon Johnson, center, organized the Kerner Commission in 1968. It concluded that America contained two societies, one White, one Black, separate and unequal.

Two friends, both Black, informed me that they will not be getting the COVID-19 vaccine. (Full disclosure: I did share my book with both.) I was angry and then sad, not just that I couldn't persuade them but how deep seated their animosity was toward getting vaccinated.


After a day I've realized there's no use in continuing a conversation. They've made up their minds and their decisions and the reasons for them are far beyond a book about a vaccine.


Their decisions brought me back to when I studied the Kerner Commission, which was created by President Johnson following inner-city protests in 1967 in Newark, New Jersey, Detroit and more than 25 other cities across America. The Kerner Commission's findings were stunning and went where no other such panel had gone before, using social science research that had been ignored.


The commission concluded, 52 years ago, that America was split into two societies, one Black, one White, separate and unequal, and steadily moving apart. Johnson's appointees got it right. For the first time an official panel looked at factors such as the police, institutional racism, and lack of opportunity among black Americans. 


But nothing has substantially changed.


So when one of my black friends said that she did not trust "white medicine," there really was nothing for me to say. All I had to think about was that Black woman doctor who documented by video her treatment as she lay in a hospital bed fighting COVID-19. She was ignored, her pain was denied, and her treatments were delayed. And she knew the protocols and how she was being denied them. Shortly after her last video, this doctor died.


So my optimism in the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 that are saving lives and will end this pandemic is tamped down today by the realization that this society is deeply divided and that African-Americans feel woefully unequal and distrustful of a system they view as other.


But I'm grateful to my friends for at least reading my book. Perhaps progress will come, just at glacial speed. I did not know how badly they feel.


Now I do.

Learn more about the vaccine, about Covid-19 and about public health in this new book:





Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The road from Chicago to food and drug safety


In 1906, The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, shocked Americans about a dangerous lack of food safety.

Mary had a Little Lamb

And when it began to sicken,

She sent it to Chicago

Where now it's a can of chicken.

--Satirist on The Jungle by Upton Sinclair


Supposedly over dinner one night in the White House, President Theodore Roosevelt was glancing through an advanced copy of The Jungle, the muckraking novel of scurrilous practices by the nation's meat producers. 

Dead rats, Sinclair wrote, were winding up in hot dogs, for example.

Roosevelt dropped his fork and exclaimed, "I'm pizzened!" 

In short order in 1906, Roosevelt pushed for and passed a meat inspection law and the Pure Food and Drug Law.

These acts led to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration, which conducts rigorous tests and enforces strict protocols on products introduced to Americans via processed foods, new drugs, and new medical procedures. 

The Covid-19 vaccines had to pass rigorous tests involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers. The testing is arduous and conducted with strict safety in mind. 

Learn more about the vaccine, about Covid-19 and about public health in this new book:


Monday, May 10, 2021

Distillery milk and Covid vaccine safety

Distillery milk, or swillmilk, poisoned and killed New York City children in the late 1800s. This and other scams led to today's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect American health.

Among the many reasons I've found for vaccine hesitancy, probably the most common one is whether it's safe. How can a vaccine, people ask, be developed so quickly? They must have taken shortcuts. 

Well the "they" in this instance is the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, which we hear talked about so often when news of the vaccine and its development and implementation is given over TV, the Internet, radio, etc. Now the FDA is more than 100 years old and has a very interesting history in protecting the health of Americans from new drugs, new food additives, or any medical device and procedure that is made available to the general public. 

In the late 1800s health standards were so low or non-existent that there existed a dangerous type of milk, more poison than food, that was delivered to children of New York City.

Devious dairy farmers and makers of grain alcohol combined to produce a concoction known as distillery milk. The scheme work this way: after grain alcohol was produced, there remained a weak yet slightly nutritious type of mash. The unscrupulous businessmen thought that this gruel could be given to dairy cows, which were producing milk in the borough of Brooklyn... remember this was the late 1800s.

The distillery owners and the dairy farmers got together, literally moving their plants next to each other to save every penny for their scam. The barely nutritious mash left over from the alcohol production was sent next door to the dairy cows. There the emaciated cows produced thin, blue colored milk, almost completely lacking in nutrition. 

To fix the color, the dairies added chalk. To thicken it, they added Plaster of Paris. Thus was born "distillery milk," also know as "swillmilk."

Children around New York City, particularly in Manhattan, were given this poison in schools, got sick, and died. An investigation by the private New York Academy of Sciences unveiled the scheme, and it was eventually stopped. 

So bad was the need for regulation that the federal Department of Agriculture began an investigation and by 1906, with the backing of President Theodore Roosevelt, the Pure Food and Drug law was enacted. With that law came the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration.

So while nothing is certain in this world, the presence and the rigorous testing and precautions of the FDA give us a sense of safety and security. Clinical trials are the gold standard for drugs. foods, and any medical devices or procedures. The Covid vaccines underwent rigorous four-step clinical trials, that were only speeded up by the vaccine makers who took the gamble that they could conduct several of these steps, at their own financial risk, at the same time. So sure were they that the vaccines would prove safe and effective that manufacturing actually began before the vaccines had received complete approval. The vaccines however could not be released to the public until that approval was granted by the food and drug administration.












Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Covid-19 FAQs: Protect yourself

This page uses the official term COVID-19 to refer to the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus.


Many rumors related to COVID-19 circulating on social media are false or contain misinformation. People should be skeptical of rumors they hear on social media that aren’t being reported by reputable health organizations or mainstream media outlets and should not share or repost items unless they are able to confirm that they are true. False and inaccurate social media posts can cause a great deal of harm.

Source: State of Utah.gov


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms reported are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. You may also have muscle aches, a sore throat, or a decrease in your sense of smell or taste. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor and isolate right away. Your doctor will decide if you need to be tested. You can find testing locations at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/testing-locations/.

You can use the CDC coronavirus self-checker to help you decide if you need medical care. This tool can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure. This is why you will be asked to quarantine for 14 days if you are exposed to someone who has COVID-19, because it can take 14 days for you to get sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sore throat, or a decrease in your sense of smell or taste, call your doctor and isolate right away. Your doctor will decide if you need to be tested.

I was at a place where someone who tested positive for COVID-19 was. Do I need to be tested?

Not necessarily. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sore throat, or a decrease in your sense of smell or taste), you should get tested for COVID-19. Call your doctor and isolate right away.  

If you were in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should quarantine for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. This means you were closer than 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from the person who tested positive for 15 minutes or longer. Public health workers may recommend you get tested for COVID-19 if you were in close contact with someone who has it. This will happen through the contact tracing process. 

Public health workers do contact tracing when someone tests positive for COVID-19. They will contact every person they feel may have been exposed to the virus. If they don't contact you, it means you were most likely not exposed. In the rare cases that public health feels they may not have the ability to contact all of the close contacts of the individual, they will issue a public statement so everyone will know.

What does close contact mean?

Close contact means being within 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) of someone who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer. Close contact also means having direct contact with infectious secretions of someone who has COVID-19, such as being coughed on. 

What should I do if I am sick?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor and isolate right away. You should also get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms. 

Isolation is for people who are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19. Everyone who lives in your house should stay at home if someone in your house tests positive for COVID-19. Isolation is for people who are not sick enough to be in the hospital. Your doctor may tell you to recover at home. Isolation keeps sick people away from healthy people to stop sickness from spreading. 

If you are sick or test positive for COVID-19, you should:

  • Stay home unless you need medical care.
  • Try to stay in a different room than other people in your house. If this is not possible, stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
  • Try to use a different bathroom than the other people who live in your house.
  • Clean surfaces that are touched often (phones, doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, sink handles, countertops, and anything metal).
  • Do not travel if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water right after you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose. If you do not have soap or water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a face mask if you have to be around other people (if you have to be in the same room or car). If you can’t wear a face mask because it makes it hard for you to breathe, stay in a different room from other people. If people come into your room, they should wear a face mask.

More information on what to do if you are sick can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html


Should I wear a face mask?

There is clear scientific evidence that wearing a face covering prevents the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends all people 2 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when it is hard to physical distance. 

While cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it may not be possible in every situation or for some people to wear a face covering. In some situations, a cloth face covering could make a physical or mental condition worse or be a safety concern. Consider adaptations and alternatives whenever possible to help someone wear a face covering or to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread if it is not possible for someone to wear one.

You can help your community if you make your own mask. There are not enough surgical masks (such as the ones used in doctors’ offices) and N-95 respirators for all of the healthcare workers to take care of patients with COVID-19. Please try to leave these masks for healthcare workers. 

The CDC has more tips and instructions for how to make a homemade mask at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Do I need to wear a mask if I have been sick?

You should wear a facemask if you are sick, showing symptoms of COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19 to protect others from the risk of getting infected. 

Can the virus be spread to the children of pregnant women?

Cases have been reported where a pregnant woman with COVID-19 has passed the virus to the baby during pregnancy or delivery. Studies are continuing.

Can the virus be spread to a baby through breastmilk?

There is no information at this time that a mother can spread COVID-19 to her baby through breastmilk. Breastfeeding should be determined by the mother and her doctor. A mother with confirmed COVID-19 should take steps to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing hands, wearing a face mask, and cleaning the breast pump.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Vaccine FAQs. Pt.1

This page uses the official term COVID-19 to refer to the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus.


Many rumors related to COVID-19 circulating on social media are false or contain misinformation. People should be skeptical of rumors they hear on social media that aren’t being reported by reputable health organizations or mainstream media outlets and should not share or repost items unless they are able to confirm that they are true. False and inaccurate social media posts can cause a great deal of harm.

Source: State of Utah.gov



What is novel coronavirus, or COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), so people most likely have no immunity to it. It causes a respiratory illness ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to severe pneumonia.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to what someone may get from a seasonal illness:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • A decrease in smell or taste 

Most people with COVID-19 will have mild to moderate symptoms. However, people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 

There is currently no vaccine or antiviral treatment for COVID-19.

What does COVID-19 mean?

This is the official name for the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) renamed 2019-nCoV to COVID-19 using a combination of the words coronavirus (CO), virus (VI), and disease (D). The number “19” is for the year the outbreak was first identified. The name was chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location, animal species, or group of people to prevent stigma.

How is the virus spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
  • By respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat COVID-19?
Currently, there are no specific medicines or vaccines for the new virus, and antibiotics do not work either (they fight off bacteria). Most people get better on their own. Scientists are working to develop a vaccine, but this will have to be tested in trials first, so it could be some time before it is ready. Scientists are also conducting studies to determine if medications already on the market could be effective in treating COVID-19. Treatment is only to manage symptoms, such as drinking lots of fluids, getting plenty of rest, etc. 

Who is most affected by COVID-19?
People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19: 

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

Based on what we know now, people with the following health conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate to severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (a disease which affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV/ • AIDS, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Liver disease
  • Neurologic conditions such as dementia
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes

Children who have special health care needs or are medically complex are also at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These children may have neurologic, genetic, or metabolic health conditions or a congenital heart disease. 

Smoking may also increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. For more information on who may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and what precautions these individuals should take, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html

What is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children?  

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care.

Contact your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic right away if your child is showing symptoms of MIS-C. Seek emergency care right away if your child is showing any of these emergency warning signs of MIS-C or other concerning signs.

Does everyone with COVID-19 end up in the hospital?

No. People of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may include hospitalization. 

Most people will be able to recover at home under the care of a healthcare provider. It’s not known what the long-term health effects of COVID-19 are. 

Is COVID-19 more dangerous than influenza (flu)?

COVID-19 is especially dangerous because we don’t have a vaccine to prevent it or treatment for it. COVID-19 appears to be more infectious than influenza.

Everyone should get an influenza vaccine (flu shot) when they become available this fall. 

Do you have immunity once you get COVID?

There is still a lot we don't know about COVID-19 including how much immunity a person will have after being infected with the virus. 

Will warm weather stop COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new form of virus, so it is not yet known how temperature will affect transmission. COVID-19 has been spreading in areas of the world with warmer climates, but there is much to learn about the transmissibility of the disease.

Can COVID-19 be spread through water?

COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods should remove or inactivate the virus. There is also no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs.

How long does COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

Studies show the virus that causes COVID-19 may last on surfaces for up to 72 hours depending on the surface. That's why it is so important to not touch your face, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often (such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables), and wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

There's a lot we still don't know, such as how different conditions, including exposure to sunlight, heat, or cold, can affect these survival times.

What cleaning agents work best to kill COVID-19?

Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html

Can I get COVID-19 from pets or animals?

There have been a small number of pets (dogs and cats) which have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with someone who had COVID-19. Based on what we know right now, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to humans is considered low. 

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/pets.html

If I get a package from an area with coronavirus and open it, will I get COVID-19?

People receiving packages from areas with coronavirus are not at risk of contracting COVID-19. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. These viruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets, such as coughing and sneezing. There have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. associated with imported goods.

Can I get COVID-19 from food, including food from restaurants or take-out? 

There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, like a packaging container, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

COVID-19 pandemic may have increased mental health issues within families

 


Science News
from research organizations

COVID-19 pandemic may have increased mental health issues within families

Date:
April 13, 2021
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, many families found themselves suddenly isolated together at home. A year later, new research has linked this period with a variety of large, detrimental effects on individuals' and families' well-being and functioning.
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April 13, 2021

Source: Penn State

Summary: When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, many families found themselves suddenly isolated together at home. A year later, new research has linked this period with a variety of large, detrimental effects on individuals' and families' well-being and functioning.

:

 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, many families found themselves suddenly isolated together at home. A year later, new research has linked this period with a variety of large, detrimental effects on individuals' and families' well-being and functioning.

The study -- led by Penn State researchers -- found that in the first months of the pandemic, parents reported that their children were experiencing much higher levels of "internalizing" problems like depression and anxiety, and "externalizing" problems such as disruptive and aggressive behavior, than before the pandemic. Parents also reported that they themselves were experiencing much higher levels of depression and lower levels of coparenting quality with their partners.

Mark Feinberg, research professor of health and human development at Penn State, said the results -- recently published in the journal Family Process -- give insight into just how devastating periods of family and social stress can be for parents and children, and how important a good coparenting relationship can be for family well-being.

"Stress in general -- whether daily hassles or acute, crisis-driven stress -- typically leads to greater conflict and hostility in family relationships," Feinberg said. "If parents can support each other in these situations, the evidence from past research indicates that they will be able to be more patient and more supportive with their children, rather than becoming more harsh and angry."

Feinberg added that understanding what can help parents maintain positive parenting practices, such as a positive coparenting relationship, is key for helping protect children during future crises -- whether those crises are pandemics, economic shocks or natural disasters.

While cross-sectional studies have suggested there has been a negative impact of the pandemic on families, the researchers said this study is one of the first to measure just how much these factors have changed within families before and after the pandemic hit.

According to the researchers, previous research has found that periods of financial stress, such as the Great Depression and the 2008 recession, have led to higher levels of parent stress, mental health problems and interparental conflict, which can all lead to more harsh, and even abusive, parenting.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Feinberg said it led to not only financial stress within families, but also problems related to being isolated together, issues managing work and childcare, and general fear related to the sudden health threat that was poorly understood.

"When the pandemic hit, like many people, I was very anxious and worried," Feinberg said. "I saw the tensions and difficulties my daughter and I were having being home together 24/7. So, when I realized that our existing studies and samples of families gave us an opportunity to learn something about how families would cope during the crisis, my team and I moved into action."

For the study, the researchers used data from 129 families, which included 122 mothers and 84 fathers, with an average of 2.3 children per family. The parents answered an online questionnaire that asked them about their depressive symptoms, anxiety, the quality of their relationship with their coparent, and externalizing and internalizing behavior they observed in their children, among other measures.

Because the participants were part of a longer study measuring these factors over prior years, the researchers already had data on these parents and children from before the pandemic.

Get the vaccine. Please.


The researchers found that parents were 2.4 times more likely to report "clinically significant" high levels of depression after the pandemic hit than before. They were also 2.5 times and 4 times more likely to report externalizing and internalizing problems, respectively, in their children at levels high enough that professional help might be needed.

Feinberg said that while it makes sense that families would experience these difficulties, he was shocked at the magnitude of the declines in well-being.

"The size of these changes are considered very large in our field and are rarely seen," Feinberg said. "We saw not just overall shifts, but greater numbers of parents and children who were in the clinical range for depression and behavior problems, which means they were likely struggling with a diagnosable disorder and would benefit from treatment."

Feinberg put the size of the declines in parent and child well-being in perspective by pointing out that the increase in parents' levels of depressive symptoms in the first months of the pandemic was about twice as large as the average benefit of antidepressants.

The researchers said that as the risk of future pandemics and natural disasters increases with the effects of climate change, so will the likelihood of families facing stressful conditions again in the future

"Getting ready for these types of crises could include helping families prepare -- not just by stocking up on supplies, but also by improving family resiliency and psychological coping resources," Feinberg said. "In my view, that means providing the kinds of family prevention programs we've been developing and testing at the Prevention Research Center for the past 20 years."

For example, Feinberg explained that their research shows that the Family Foundations program helps new parents develop stronger capacities for cooperation and support in their relationship with each other as coparents, which is a key dimension of family resiliency.

Feinberg said future research will examine whether families who went through Family Foundations or other programs were more resilient, maintained better family relationships, and experienced smaller declines in mental health during the pandemic.

Jacqueline Mogle, Jin-Kyung Lee, Samantha L. Tornello, Michelle L. Hostetler, Joseph A. Cifelli and Sunhye Bai, all at Penn State; and Emily Hotez, University of California, also participated in this work.

The National Institute of Child Health and Development and The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State helped support this research.