Introduction: To slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, businesses shutdown in Spring 2020. Research has indicated the impact on frontline workers, yet little is known about the impact on those who were not working outside the home or switched to working remotely.
Purpose: The purpose of this report is to identify the financial and healthcare issues and mental health impact of the COVID-19 shutdown on Appalachians by worker categories.
Methods: An online survey was administered from May 8 – June 6, 2020 to a convenience sample of previous research participants and shared through social media networks, i.e., snowball sampling. Questions investigated mental health, financial and healthcare issues, and employment status. Survey responses were summarized by percentages overall and by working categories.
Results: Of the 751 participants, 276 (42%) resided in Appalachia. After removing 17 who lost their job due to COVID-19, 59 (23%) indicated not working outside the home prior to COVID-19, whereas 111 (43%) and 89 (34%) switched to working remotely and continued working outside the home during the shutdown. Respondents were predominately Caucasian and female. Nearly a quarter of participants had lost or reduced income due to the shutdown. Approximately half missed or postponed healthcare appointments. Mental health impacts were similar across the groups, with half of the respondents reporting anxiety due to COVID-19.
Implications: Further research is needed to explore health outcomes associated with missed healthcare appointments during the shutdown. Mental health support may be needed equally by those isolated at home and frontline workers.
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Haynes EN, Hilbert TJ, Westneat S, Leger KA, Keynton K, Bush H. Impact of the COVID-19 Shutdown on Mental Health in Appalachia by Working Status. J Appalach Health 2021;3(1):18-28. https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0301.03