Over the course of the pandemic, numerous people across Colorado have been impacted by the infamous Corona Virus, also known as COVID-19. The effects of the virus have been numerous, but at the forefront of its detriments stands the physical and mental impacts on the community. Hospitalizations, job loss and insecurity, ideations of suicide, and increases in substance abuse are visible across the state. To combat the spread of the virus, mandates created by the CDC were brought to Colorado, such as the mask mandate. Though only action against COVID-19, these mandates have had impacts on the citizens of Colorado as well. Opinions on such mandates vary across individuals in both positive and negative light.
Programs such as the CARES Stimulus, noted by Colorado Springs resident, Lance Timmsen, were put into action to combat the American people’s financial struggles during these turbulent times. In his personal experience, “The CARES Stimulus money funded the remodel of the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center Security Electronic Systems Upgrade.” As an engineer specializing in the field of security systems within the criminal justice system, this money provided a massive benefit towards the work available to him and other professionals in his field. When asked about the impacts of job insecurity and loss, he noted, “I cannot think of anyone who lost their job because of the pandemic,” and later noted, “most people that I have talked to receive some source of stimulus money in addition to their current income.” While the receipt of stimulus checks was in fact dispersed to qualifying Americans, there was an increase in unemployment through the months of March and April 2020 in Colorado; 375,000, to be exact. Clearly, there was a detrimental impact on the workforce throughout this period. Cassie Williamson, a college senior in Denver Colorado, went on the record to state that due to the pandemic, her place of work was shut down. The Carla Madison Recreational Center was where Williamson had worked for five years as a front desk attendant. Due to the rising numbers of individuals with COVID, they were forced to close their doors during the shutdown. The difference in an individual’s professional situation during the pandemic is perhaps the deciding factor in whether they are as observant of the trend.
At the height of the pandemic, hospitalizations in Colorado hit over 1,800. When speaking with Timmsen on this matter, he said that he was not personally hospitalized, “but I do know people that were.” This theme is the same among both the people I interviewed. The consensus gathered appears that if an individual has not personally experienced hospitalization, they more than likely know or know of someone who has. At the end of 2021, the number of hospitalizations was estimated to exceed that of the 1,847 during 2020. The Center for Disease Control, also known as the CDC, has crafted mandates in order to combat these rising numbers. For instance, the mask mandate and vaccination are quoted as being “the two most important tools Coloradans can use to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” by the CDC. Such mandates are heated topics varying from person to person. There are strong opinions on both sides, whether for them or against. When asked about such mandates, Williamson said, “I wear my mask, I got my vaccines, and I social distance when needed. I feel like these are three of the easiest things I have ever had to do, and I have nothing but positive experiences with all these things. Though, I have had many negative experiences with those who feel that wearing masks, getting vaccinated, or social distancing will be the fall of civilization or any other insane outcome they come up with.” One thing is for certain, there is a scientific link between wearing a masks, vaccination, and social distancing and the preventing of COVID-19.
With the numbers climbing higher and higher, and space for people testing positive for COVID getting lower and lower, it is no wonder that fear and anxiety are climbing across the nation. Dan Meyers from the United Nation notes, “studies show that the global crisis has exacerbated risk factors associated with suicidal behaviors, such as job loss, trauma or abuse, mental health disorders and barriers to accessing health care.” Kianna Timmsen, another Colorado Springs resident, noted that the end of 2020 was “one of the lowest points” in her life. According to her personal experience, it was nearly impossible to seek the in-patient help that she needed during a depressive episode. “I feel very sorry for those working in these facilities because of the under-staffing, but it took almost an entire week before I could get in for treatment,” she noted when asked about her process with mental-health facilities at that time. With an increase of people suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, on top of hospitals struggling to combat the influx of patients, it is not surprising that more and more people are affected by the reality of the nation’s situation on both a physical and mental level.
In such a pressing era in our country, there has been little relief to be found for many. With such low morale from person to person and the necessity for safety separating loved ones across the world, substance abuse has also skyrocketed. According to a survey dating June 2020, there was a reported 13% of adults either increased their use or new use of substances. For a nation battling a pandemic unlike anything we’ve seen in this lifetime, it’s not difficult to imagine the temptation to find anything that might ease the fear and anxiety.
It’s clear that COVID-19 has hit the nation in a hard way. Through unemployment, mental health, medical hardships, and even substance abuse, the virus has stacked the odds against not only the country, but the individual. This pandemic has proven that there is so much more to be fought than just external battles.
 The Colorado Sun notes this number and time frame in its article, “What’s Working: Colorado has recovered 89% of jobs lost during COVID-19”
 See John Daley’s “Colorado Approaches New Pandemic New Pandemic Peak COVID Hospitalizations Top 1,500 and Only 75 ICU Beds Remain Available”
 “That number is poised to exceed the pandemic high of 1,847 from last year’s big wave,” notes John Daley.
 See Colorado COVID-19 Updates, CDC.
 See “Pandemic Increasing Risk Factors for Suicide, UN Health Agency Warns.” United Nations.
 From “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use,” an article by Nirmita Panchal and Rabah Kamal.
Chuang, Tamara. “What’s Working: Colorado Has Recovered 89% of Jobs Lost during COVID-19.” The Colorado Sun, January 24, 2022. https://coloradosun.com/2022/01/22/colorado-pandemic-economy-recovery-livable-wage/.
Daley, John. “Colorado Approaches New Pandemic Peak as COVID Hospitalizations Top 1,500 and Only 75 ICU Beds Remain Available.” Colorado Public Radio. Colorado Public Radio, November 17, 2021. https://www.cpr.org/2021/11/17/colorado-covid-hospitalizations-icu-beds/.
“Guidance for Wearing Masks.” Colorado COVID-19 Updates. CDC, February 9, 2022. https://covid19.gov/maskguidance
Meyers, Dan. “Pandemic Increasing Risk Factors for Suicide, UN Health Agency Warns | | UN News.” United Nations, 2021. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/09/1099572
Nirmita Panchal and Rabah Kamal. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” KFF, July 20, 2021. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/.