Population Health Research Brief Series

A Public Health Side Effect of the Coronavirus Pandemic: Screen Time-Related Eye Strain and Eye Fatigue

Mary E. Helander, Stephanie A. Cushman, and Shannon Monnat
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“Screen time” refers to the duration of time spent in activities that involve peering into a digital screen, including media viewing, working on a computer or tablet, electronic communication, and playing video games. For the average person, screen time has surged over the past two decades. Prior to COVID-19, the typical American already spent nearly 11 hours per day in front of digital screens.1

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Let Them Eat Lunch: The Impact of Universal Free Meals on Student Performance

Amy Ellen Schwartz and Michah W. Rothbart
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KEY FINDINGS

  • Universal Free Meals (UFM) increases school lunch participation among middle school students from both poor and non-poor families.
  • UFM improves test scores in English language arts and math.
  • There is no evidence that UFM has negative effects on student weight. There is some evidence that UFM reduces obesity.
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Making Meaning during Coronavirus

Mary Kate Lee
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We’ve been in quarantine for about seven weeks now. During this short time, our lives have been flipped upside down and turned inside out in many different capacities. The sandwich generation may be simultaneously caring for their children and parents while working from home. High school and college graduates are unable to celebrate their milestones in traditional ways. Many are out of a paycheck and without health insurance. Some are struggling with the insufferable pain of loneliness. Some have lost loved ones to the coronavirus.

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Grandmothers at Work during Coronavirus

Madonna Harrington Meyer
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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • COVID-19 is reshaping the lives of working grandmothers in the U.S.
  • Due to the health risks of COVID-19 for older adults, many families decided to isolate separately from grandparents.
  • Many families are now without their primary or secondary source of childcare – grandmothers.
  • In other cases, grandmothers are providing more childcare than ever.
  • Job loss among older adults often means inability to provide essential financial support to children and grandchildren.
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Risky Business: Recognizing the Flaws of Employer-Based Health Insurance during COVID-19

Austin McNeill Brown and Mariah Brennan Nanni
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As of April 23th, 2020, over 26 million Americans had filed for unemployment due to COVID-19 related business closures.1 The U.S. government has been slow to respond to the direct impacts of unemployment, including the loss of employer-based health insurance for millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic. According to projections, 7.5 million workers and several million of their dependents will lack health insurance by June 2020.2

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COVID-19 and Pneumonia: Increased Risk for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities during the Pandemic

Scott D. Landes, Dalton Stevens, & Margaret A. Turk
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KEY FINDINGS

  • COVID-19 death rates are higher among adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
  • Adults with IDD are more likely to develop pneumonia (a severe complication of COVID-19) than adults without IDD.
  • Medical personnel must take extra precautions in treating COVID-19 symptoms in adults with IDD.
  • Those certifying death certificates need to accurately record IDD on the death certificate.
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How to Help Children Develop Emotional Resilience during Coronavirus

Xiaoyan Zhang & Mary Kate Lee
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A dark cloud of uncertainty looms over our nation, and yet many of us continue to bear responsibility for people who rely on us to take care of them. The great uncertainty we are facing has left many of us anxious, stressed, defensive, and short-sighted. We do not yet know how coronavirus will affect our society in the short term, let alone the world we leave for our children.

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Potential Impacts of COVID-19 on Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disability: A Call for Accurate Cause of Death Reporting

Dalton Stevens & Scott Landes
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KEY FINDINGS

  • COVID-19 deaths will likely be more prevalent among those with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD).
  • Death rates from pneumonia are between 2.2 times and 5.8 times higher among individuals with an IDD than among those without IDD, giving us a clear warning of the severity of COVID-19 among people with IDD.
  • Underestimation of COVID-19 deaths is potentially more severe for those with IDD.
  • Cause of death certifiers must be attentive to accurately recording IDD on the death certificate.
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Geographic Disparities in COVID-19 Testing: An Urgent Call to Action

Shannon M Monnat and Kent Jason G Cheng
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KEY FINDINGS

  • COVID-19 testing rates are lowest in the least healthy states. Rates are lower in states with lower life expectancy, higher percentages of adults reporting fair/poor health, higher rates of obesity, and higher diabetes prevalence.
  • COVID-19 testing rates are lowest in states with the least health care access. Testing rates are lower in states with fewer primary care physicians per capita and in states with higher percentages of uninsured adults.
  • Several states with the lowest testing rates are among those who elected not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Disparities in testing rates are troubling because delays in testing increase the risk of a surge in silent spread and severe COVID-19 cases in these states.
  • This epidemic not only reveals, but is also exacerbating, large health disparities across U.S. states.
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