COLUMBUS — Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 disrupted the lives of Ohioans, and data continues to evolve that is uncovering the far-reaching financial toll.

Nearly one-in-four adults in the Greater Cincinnati COVID-19 Health Issues Survey said they experienced at least one financial difficulty. Research Associate with Interact for Health Colleen Desmond explained that includes trouble paying for food, rent or utilities.

“Necessary things like business closures, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, things like that have affected people’s financial wellbeing,” said Desmond. “If anything, I would have expected these potentially be a little bit higher. If you did this same survey statewide in Ohio, I think you’d see very similar results.”

And that is the case, according to the most recent U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey that showed nearly one-in-four Ohio adults experienced difficulty paying for usual household expenses in the last seven days.

The Health Issues Survey also revealed disparities, with 35% of Black adults reporting financial struggles, compared with 20% of white adults.

More than 20,000 Ohioans have lost their lives to COVID-19, and more than one million cases have been reported in the state. Desmond said it’s important to also continue tracking financial hardships caused by pandemic because they are closely connected to a person’s health outcomes.

“If you’re not able to afford food, that can affect your health,” said Desmond. “If you’re not able to pay your mortgage or rent, obviously, that can contribute to stress, it can contribute to poor living conditions, it can contribute to homelessness. All of these things can affect health. Same with utilities. “

Desmond contended that moving forward, policies are needed that ensure all Ohioans can afford food, housing, health care and other basic necessities that can improve health and well-being.

By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman

Public News Service