A recent issue of Time magazine had an article about the pandemic and changes that will impact us.
The article points out that the number of pregnant women will slow due to job cuts, threatened layoffs, worry over the loss of health insurance and other reasons. This shift involves hundreds of thousands of American women and could result in as many as 500,000 fewer births in 2021, a 13 percent drop from the 3.8 million babies born in 2019.
Lower income women were most likely to follow this pattern, especially for Black and Latino women “who have suffered disproportionate income and job losses this year.” Witten by Eliana Dockerman, the information suggests a strong number of other factors that could affect the population movement across the nation. Among these are:
• Hospital rules that might limit partners from the delivery room.
• The risk of exposing relatives to illness if they needed to provide child care.
• Worry over the health of the mother and baby.
• Pregnant women becoming more likely to deliver preterm if they have COVID-19.
These elements, plus others, can slow down the yet to be situation that COVID brings to many families desiring to secure their freedom to have deliveries when they make the decision to have a child. With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the nation, this trend will have a negative effect on the statistical nature of population growth in many regions, including Pennsylvania and the Pocono-Northeast.
The commonwealth may well slow the moderation that had come to this state and force the trend to become a part of statistical management. As one person noted in Florida, consideration of home birth is seriously being considered since “you never know when another spike will come, and it just seems wise to avoid the hospital.” This certainly could impact hospitals and other components such as purchases of goods and services and continue to hit the economy. COVID-19 has widely caused growth to slow .
The article notes that the U.S. fertility rate has been the lowest since 1985. “By 2034, Americans over age 65 are expected to outnumber those under 18 for the first time in U. S. history,” it states. This trend impacts almost every condition, including “ a severe dearth of workers able to drive the economy and care for our aging population.”
The nursing home and child care sectors have been hard hit by these trends across the nation and how we cope with what has occurred regarding vaccines means more problems and issues that will not completely disappear.
Another issue is being scared of the world by holding back from bringing children to birth as well as the use of birth control and other techniques that did not exist decades ago. A new initiative is the Mom Project, which has been working with companies to institute policies that would afford parents more options. One aspect of this is a $500,000 fund to provide grants to companies to save working mothers’ jobs.
A view of all of this in the Pocono-Northeast reveals the following opportunities.
• Collect regional data of the type mentioned in the Time article and analyze what the region can do to counter these trends.
• Evaluate the results of this survey of information and develop a regional plan for COVID-19 accordingly.
• Compare national, and state data with regional information to determine best steps.
• Study the impact of this data on the economy. Perhaps the NEPA Alliance could undertake such an analysis. Also, the new Boost Business NEPA which works with small businesses and nonprofits, could be involved.
• Examine the status of the child care industry in the region and help generate new ideas and ways to protect his sector.
• Study the role of the elderly in relation to caring for this segment of the population.
• Inventory and examine the role of hospitals in the region that may be threatened with an overflow of COVID-19 patients.
• Organize a regional task force on COVID-19 data and new thoughts regarding regional steps to help overcome the growing data issues.
• Develop weekly briefings on the role of the task force and tie this into the briefings by the governor and state Department of Health.
• Support state funding of nonprofits that provide key services similar to what has been done with small businesses.
Each demographic group should be analyzed such as millennials, baby boomers senior citizens and children. How
each group can best contribute to a COVID-19 plan and how they relate to the overall data system becomes essential.
By undertaking these regional focal points, this region can continue to be a leader in the commonwealth, if not the nation, and lead a signature response to the growing menace of this crisis.