Mental health and business impacts of continued avoidance of social gatherings

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Posted at 11:24 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 02:24:55-04

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says social gatherings like birthday parties and other celebrations are to blame for recent COVID-19 cases.

Public health officials are now asking people to avoid gatherings, but some are concerned with the business and mental health impacts of staying apart.

Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic and pandemic fatigue is setting in for many people.

"My daughter's home from college. She graduated in May from the University of Puget Sound and that was kind of anti-climatic because we couldn't have a graduation," said Templeton resident, Andy Hall.

Some health experts say the uncertainty and lack of human interaction are impacting people's mental health.

"As mental health therapists, what we know about people is that we like predictability; we like to know what's coming tomorrow. We're very resilient as human beings and we know that if it's a time-limited sort of thing we have to endure, we can pretty much get through that. This doesn't seem like there's an end in sight for us so we're willing to risk the odds because we feel frustrated," explained Family Service Agency Marriage and Family Therapist, De Rosenberry.

San Luis Obispo County health officials say a rise of COVID-19 cases correlates with a rise of social gatherings, specifically when people hang out with others they don't live with.

The county is now asking people to avoid these parties and events but businesses like Central Coast Party Helpers say they're doing their best to keep guests safe.

"We've put in place a sanitation valet where we have a hand-washing station where we greet guests as they arrive and wash their hands. We greet people with beverages on a tray so they can just take the beverage themselves and then we escort them to the ceremony site where we have spaced out seating," said Brigitte Faulkner, Owner of Central Coast Party Helpers.

Faulkner says older guests can watch event livestreams at home or sit at their own tables.

"We assign a wait staff to take care of just them and sometimes the bridal party as well so they're not interacting with too many people and everyone feels safe."

The lack of gatherings and rescheduling of events has had a major impact on business for many local party planners.

Event organizers like Kramer Events tell KSBY:

The event industry is decimated and we are watching many of our industry friends close their doors for good. It’s very disheartening to see. Many of them spent their entire lives providing joy to others.

Business for us has been tough with almost all of our clients canceling or postponing their events to a later date. The few events we are doing are typically very small and are exercising control measures to ensure people are safe. We have and will continue to retool our operations to create safe ways to help people celebrate.

I’m am also concerned about the larger uncontrolled gatherings where people don’t seem to show much concern for the spread of Covid. These are the ones getting most of the attention. And they are not helping.

At the same time I’m also inspired by the hard work event planners, facilities and vendors are putting in to make small 50 person events safe. They are working hard to reimagine their entire way of doing things to help people celebrate together and stay health, both mentally and physically. They want to be part of the solution.

With mental health issues on the rise, it’s time we encourage more safer and smaller events so no-one feels the need to put on larger, uncontrolled, and unsafe events.
Beau Kramer

For those planning on staying home, experts say it's important to keep tabs on how you are feeling.

"If you feel something that feels odd or different or scared or just angry - reach out. Call someone, call our agency the Family Service Agency - call us and we'll help you find someone else," Rosenberry said.

Rosenberry recommends setting up fun activities with friends and family members on Zoom and adds another way to get through this is to volunteer and help others.