What We’re Reading: US Mental Health Declines; Biden Proposes Mask Order; FDA Issues Hand Sanitizer Warning

August 14, 2020

New data from the CDC show startling declines in mental health; Biden recommends public mask-wearing for 3 months; FDA issues new warning on hand sanitizers.

Substance Abuse, Suicidal Ideation Grow Amid Pandemic

New CDC data show that during June 24 to 30, 2020, 40% of adults in the United States reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In particular, young adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation during this time. Compared with the 30 days prior to the survey, anxiety and depression symptoms increased by 31%, trauma and stressor-related disorder symptoms increased by 26%, 11% seriously considered suicide, and 13% started or increased their substance use.

Biden Calls For 3-Month Mask Mandate

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, is calling for each governor in the United States to mandate their citizens wear a mask when they’re outside for the next 3 months, NPR reports. During a joint appearance with his newly announced running mate, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), Biden said the measure is estimated to save more than 40,000 lives in the coming months. Currently, more than 165,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, as states and regions throughout the country implement varying degrees of mask mandates. Should he be elected president in November, Biden said he would use the power of the executive branch to make mask-wearing a public requirement.

FDA Updates Hand Sanitizer Warning

The FDA has updated its list of hand sanitizers the public should not use due to the presence of toxic chemicals in some formulas, The Hill reports. The agency said it has seen a spike in the number of hand sanitizers labeled to contain ethanol but have in fact tested positive for methanol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. The presence of 1-propanol, a deadly toxin which can depress the central nervous system, was also detected in some samples. Some symptoms of exposure to the toxin include confusion, decreased consciousness, and slowed pulse and breathing. Contaminated products produced in Mexico or China were added to an import alert in an effort to stop shipment into the United States.