Special Report

A Year in Review: 17 Non-Obvious Ways Life Has Changed During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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6. Vaccination rates are down

Stay-at-home orders were in effect in most states for several months, and people were concerned about going to the doctor for checkups and other purposes, including vaccinating their children. Routine vaccination rates declined significantly between March and May, according to the CDC. In New York city, for example, doses given to children 2 and older dropped by 91% compared to that period in 2019. In Miami, the decline was about 60%. Non-flu vaccination rates among adults 65 and older across the country fell by 83% compared to the year before.

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7. Will writing is up

More people are writing their wills amid the pandemic. Lawyers specializing in trust and estate work have reported a significant increase in new clients who want to write a will. In Minneapolis, local lawyers say the number of people wanting to write a will — many of whom are teachers and doctors — has jumped between 20% and 35%.

This increase in the demand for will writing started as early as March 2020, when states first issued stay-at-home orders. As of March 23, for example, Boston-based estate-planning software Gentreo had a 143% week-over-week increase in people filling out will forms. San Diego-based estate planning startup Trust & Will saw a 50% rise in the number of users.

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8. People bike to work more

COVID-19 prompted many cities to promote the use of cycling. As the number of cars on the roads plummeted during lockdown, people turned to cycling to speedily move through cities while maintaining social distancing. Many cities have even created temporary bike lanes by rearranging urban streets to accommodate the new wave of bikers.

Even after stay-at-home orders expired, concerns over the safety of public transports pushed many people to commute by bicycle. There was a shortage of bikes in the U.S. in May 2020 as shops from New York to Arizona were selling them faster than ever before.

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9. Drug overdose epidemic worsens

Opioid-driven overdose deaths have been rising before COVID-19, but the latest CDC figures suggest that the pandemic has accelerated overdose deaths even more. Addiction specialists have called the pandemic a national relapse trigger.

Between May 2019 and May 2020, which includes the first three months of the pandemic in the U.S., there have been 81,230 drug overdose deaths, “the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period,” according to the CDC. This was an increase of over 18% from the 12-month period ending in June 2019.

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10. Telepsychiatry on the rise

The coronavirus pandemic’s social distancing measures have left many psychiatric patients unable to attend in-person appointments with their doctors, resulting in a rapid rise of telepsychiatry. Virtual meetings have proven to be a sensible way to help patients while reducing COVID-19 risks.

Whether telepsychiatry is here to stay like telehealth is not clear as the lack of in-person meetings between psychiatrists and patients may lead to unnoticed gestures, which can be crucial to an accurate diagnosis.

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