COVID-19 cases rise locally, along with anxiety levels for some

Posted at 1:26 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 18:01:26-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - A spike in COVID-19 cases is causing concern among people in Hampton Roads, and for some, the level of anxiety can be overwhelming.

Licensed clinical social worker Gary Rotfus said every single person, no matter what age group, is being impacted by the pandemic.

“Everybody’s sense of normalcy has been disrupted,” Rotfus said.

People are now working from home, parents are worried about their kids starting school and others are out of work, and now there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in our region. Rotfus said this can cause distress for many people.

“I'm seeing, over the last couple of weeks, a spike in the numbers in our area, and I am seeing a spike in people’s anxieties,” Rotfus said.

The CDC says stress during the outbreak can sometimes lead to fear and worry about the health of yourself and your loved ones, your financial situation or job. It can affect your eating, sleeping or ability to concentrate.

“I'm seeing more people just get outright scared,” Rotfus said.

Rotfus said people prone to worrying and those with pre-existing anxiety conditions are really suffering right now.

“Their anxiety is through the roof. This is completely understandable, because people who have anxiety, what helps them out the most is trying to have predictability,” Rotfus said. “They're trying to know what's going to happen so that they can plan for it, and we're in a situation now it's difficult to plan for.”

He said contributing to the rise in anxiety levels is the rise in number of people who know someone with the coronavirus.

“More people have a friend or relative or coworker who has gotten sick or died as a result of contracting the virus, so I think on a more personal level, right here in our community, people's lives are being touched more significantly than they were a couple months ago,” Rotfus said.

Experts recommending that you take care of your body by eating right, exercising and get plenty of sleep. They say connect with others, and take breaks and make time to unwind. Stay informed, but don't overly expose yourself to the media, as it can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images over and over.

“I think it's important for people to accept that a lot of this is just going to be out of our control and realize that it's not going to stop any time soon,” Rotfus said.

For more information on the CDC's strategies for managing stress and anxiety, click here. You can also visit the National Institute of Mental Health's website here.