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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times

Unemployment takes a significant toll on the mental health of workers, especially those who have been out of their jobs for at least 27 weeks — what the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers the “long-term unemployed.”

The longer a person has been out of work, the greater the chances that he or she will develop a clinical case of depression, according to data from a new Gallup poll. Among Americans who have been without a job for three to five weeks, 10 percent said they were depressed or were being treated for depression. That figure rose to 17 percent for those who have been out of work for six months to one year. Among people who have crossed the one-year mark, 19 percent were battling depression, the poll found.

Overall, unemployed Americans were nearly twice as likely as working Americans to be depressed — 12.4 percent versus 6.4 percent, according to Gallup.

The poll found that 5.6 percent of people with full-time jobs said they were depressed or were being treated for depression. They were joined by 8 percent of people who worked part time and weren’t seeking full-time jobs. Among those stuck with part-time gigs because they couldn’t find full-time work, 10.3 percent said they were depressed.

But the situation was worse for people without any work at all. The survey found that 12.3 percent of the short-term unemployed (who had been jobless for fewer than 27 weeks) were depressed, as were 18 percent of the long-term unemployed.

Those feelings may help explain why people become increasingly pessimistic about their prospects for finding a job the longer they’ve been out of work. Among people who have been unemployed for five weeks or fewer, about 70 percent think they’ll get a job in the next four weeks. But among people who have been unemployed for at least a year, only 30 percent believe a job offer will come their way in the next four weeks, the poll found.

It’s not hard to see how being unemployed could lead to depression. But the Gallup report notes that the reverse may be true as well — that people who are depressed could have more trouble finding a new job.

Either way, the poll results could be useful to those who design programs aimed at helping Americans get back to work by highlighting the need for taking their psychological and social well-being into account, according to the report.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 9.8 million Americans were out of work in May, including 3.4 million who were considered long-term unemployed.

The data are based on interviews with 356,599 Americans who were surveyed in 2013 for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. That sample included 18,322 who were unemployed at the time of their interview. The poll results were published Monday.

Photo: .v1ctor Casale via Flickr

Trump speaking at Londonderry, NH rally

Screenshot from YouTube

Donald Trump once again baselessly claimed on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was "going to be over" soon, just hours after his chief of staff suggested the administration was unable to get it under control.

"Now we have the best tests, and we are coming around, we're rounding the turn," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We have the vaccines, we have everything. We're rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn, it's going to be over."

Trump has made similar claims on repeated occasions in the past, stating early on in the pandemic that the coronavirus would go away on its own, then with the return of warmer weather.

That has not happened: Over the past several weeks, multiple states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with some places, including Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin, setting up overflow hospital units to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients.

Hours earlier on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to contradict Trump, telling CNN that there was no point in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus because it was, for all intents and purposes, out of their control.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," he said. "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."

Meadows doubled own on Monday, telling reporters, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

"We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had," he added.Public health experts, including those in Trump's own administration, have made it clear that there are two major things that could curb the pandemic's spread: mask wearing and social distancing.

But Trump has repeatedly undermined both, expressing doubt about the efficacy of masks and repeatedly ignoring social distancing and other safety rules — even when doing so violated local and state laws.

Trump, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, openly mocked a reporter on Friday for wearing a mask at the White House — which continues to be a hotspot for the virus and which was the location of a superspreader event late last month that led to dozens of cases. "He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him," Trump said as his maskless staff laughed alongside him.

At the Manchester rally on Sunday, Trump also bragged of "unbelievable" crowd sizes at his mass campaign events. "There are thousands of people there," he claimed, before bashing former Vice President Joe Biden for holding socially distant campaign events that followed COVID safety protocols.

"They had 42 people," he said of a recent Biden campaign event featuring former President Barack Obama. "He drew flies, did you ever hear the expression?"

Last Monday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) endorsed Biden's approach to the pandemic as better than Trump's, without "any doubt."

"The more we go down the road resisting masks and distance and tracing and the things that the scientists are telling us, I think the more concerned I get about our management of the COVID situation," he told CNN.

In his final debate against Biden last Thursday, Trump was asked what his plan was to end the pandemic. His answer made it clear that, aside from waiting for a vaccine, he does not have one.

"There is a spike, there was a spike in Florida and it's now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas — it's now gone. There was a spike in Arizona, it is now gone. There are spikes and surges in other places — they will soon be gone," he boasted. "We have a vaccine that is ready and it will be announced within weeks and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military is going to distribute the vaccine."

Experts have said a safe vaccine will likely not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, and that most people will not be able to be vaccinated until next year.

Trump also bragged Sunday that he had been "congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we have been able to do," without laying out any other strategy for going forward.

Nationally, new cases set a single-day record this weekend, with roughly 84,000 people testing positive each day. More than 8.5 million Americans have now contracted the virus and about 225,000 have died.

Trump, by contrast, tweeted on Monday that he has "made tremendous progress" with the virus, while suggesting that it should be illegal for the media to report on it before the election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.