The Very Real Personal Costs of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Okay, I have good news and bad news about the murder rate in America.
First, the good news.

The homicide rate is not as bad as it once was. In 1995 the US murder rate was about twice as high as it is now.

Now, for the bad news. While final statistics for 2020 are not yet completely complied, preliminary figures indicate that last year there was an “unprecedented single-year spike” in the U.S. murder rate. Year-to-year homicide rates increased by a jaw dropping 42% last summer (in a sample of medium to large cities), and by 34% in the fall. This is according to newly released research from the National Commission on COVID-10 and Criminal Justice and a group called Arnold Ventures.

To put that in perspective, consider that the previous single-year increase in U.S. murders was just 13% set back in 1968. In other words, this nation has now apparently nearly tripled an annual murder rate jump that stood for more than half a century.

They Study Trends in Criminal Justice and Health Care

Experts in the field of criminology, supported by the two aforementioned think tank organizations, studied statistics from 34 major U.S. cities — among them: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis, New York, and Philadelphia — and concluded that “a perfect storm of factors” was responsible for the rise in homicides last year. Researchers cited three factors: the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting wallop to the economy and the continuing struggle against racial injustice.

Sadly, these are not the only pandemic-era deaths we need to pay attention to. I know statistics can be dull and hard to absorb but they are an important indicator of the damage done by this worldwide scourge and the challenge ahead. Especially for our kids.

Pandemic related despair among the young is especially acute. In Arizona suicides among children 12 to 17 are up a staggering 67 percent. Authorities in Nevada reported 18 student suicides in just nine months and quickly moved to reopen schools when it was found the youngest to take his life was just 9. West Virginia, Wisconsin and Texas also report a troubling uptick in suicidal young.

When hopelessness sets in crime is a frequent consequence. Tempers flare, anxieties increase and the sense that there is no light at the end of the tunnel can suffocate common sense and rational behavior.

photo credit:
photo credit:

Many of us are buying guns for the first time, some are consumed by the political schism in the country, others are filled with rage over the divisions of class and race in America. And countless numbers of us are forgetting the dreams we had for the future because we have become overwhelmed by the present. There doesn’t seem to be any aspect of life that hasn’t been negatively impacted by this worldwide plague.

So, it is interesting to note the think tank research that showed a few positive crime stats for 2020. Because so many of us remained isolated at home property crime rates dropped dramatically. Residential burglaries were down 24%, larceny by 16%, robbery rates fell by 9% and drug offenses plummeted by 30%.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for the first half of 2020 adds that rapes were down nearly 18% and overall violent crime dropped in three of the nation’s four regions, down 4.8% in the Northeast, 1.8% in the Midwest, and 1.1% in the West. For some reason violent crimes increased in the South, by 2.5%.

The nearly year-long pandemic isolation we have all endured has affected so many areas of our lives that it makes you wonder how long it will take for the country to find its footing again.

photo credit: Pixabay free photos
Isolation Saves Lives But What About Peace of Mind?

Work and home life have collided, meaningful education has been derailed, massive numbers of business bankruptcies have clouded future prospects for owners and workers alike. Alcoholism, drug overdoses, domestic abuse, child sexual abuse, mental health issues like depression and suicides are all on the rise.

This terrible situation we find ourselves in can be made better or worse by each of us. We can spend this time scolding, demanding, complaining and, yes, even killing each other or we can make a determined pact as Americans to collectively persevere. Personally, I’m choosing the latter course.


Top graphic by Luis Prado, USA


  1. Diane Dimond on February 8, 2021 at 10:42 am

    Nancy Leo writes:

    The “pandemic” is not the cause of these issues, it is the government’s reaction. Draconian lockdowns for months on end, destroying small businesses, isolating children and muting people are the cause.

  2. Diane Dimond on February 8, 2021 at 10:42 am

    douglas_waterman writes:

    I see most children depressed and rude. The life has been taken away from them. The problem is the Democrat politicians. Covid 19 is not a problem.

  3. Diane Dimond on February 8, 2021 at 10:43 am

    vkettermn writes:

    This increase is not due to covid or lack of school it is due to the democrats political behavior over the years and what they support now. They have torn GOD from every aspect of our society, they have destroyed the family unit which built this country! These things plus the Model behavior of the democratic party’s, the spiral hopelessness they have caused, are all to blame! Not some sickness with a 98% rate of living if you catch it. Our children are not blind they see this behavior, they see their country be torn apart, they see people who they care about struggle with all the negativity the democrats have brought to this country in the last years. Being so young they do not know what to do with it just as some adults do not know how to deal with it! Our country was once a proud lady who stood tall for all injustice and morality now she is just Whore of Babylon where she has lost her way. Just an old woman’s observations over the last years of her life.

  4. Diane Dimond on February 8, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Janet Staab writes:

    I just finished reading your column in the Sat. Abq. Journal. I was wondering about DWI accidents and or deaths. With restaurants and bars closed and folks not out partying until midnight or 2:00am, then getting in their cars and driving on the roads, I would think DWI’s are another crime to go down. Are there any statistics about DWI arrests? Thanks for all of your info. JBS

  5. Diane Dimond on February 8, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Julie Machado writes:

    I work in a residential program with abused children. We are running waaaaay below capacity… and reporting is 75% down. W already had one child neglected to death….this year. Its a very scary time for the forgotten children. We have yet to so the full impact of this. We will be dealing with an epidemic of abused and exploited children like we have never seen before. DEAR GOD OPEN THE SCHOOLS

    • Diane Dimond on February 8, 2021 at 11:11 am

      DD replies to Julie:

      The science says it should have been done quite a while ago.

      • Diane Dimond on February 8, 2021 at 12:21 pm

        Julie Machado replies to DD:

        Diane Dimond if parent do not want to send them to schools that is their choice. If teachers do not want to teach they can work elsewhere… save the kids

  6. Diane Dimond on February 8, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    Jonathan Swartz writes:

    There was an article in the New York Times about how children who are mostly younger than me are moving back home with their parents because of the pandemic. We should reopen schools, but we need to do it responsibly, and make sure that a school does not have an outbreak. Of course, I have many thoughts in this, and when we can gather again, I look forward to sharing my thoughts/ideas with you in person.

  7. Diane Dimond on February 16, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    shellmartinewe writes:

    Thank you for always talking about what many refuse to acknowledge. These are weird & awful times.

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