How Is COVID-19 Affecting You? Please Take a Survey

This article, in a slightly edited form, first appeared on Pain News Network on April 11, 2020.


These are hard times. Our emotions are intense and frayed, and often it’s helpful to share those feelings. Pain News Network, in collaboration with chronic pain advocate Barby Ingle, has published a survey you can take to share how the pandemic has affected you thus far.

Let Pain News Network hear about your worries, concerns, and how you are trying to find meaning and purpose in a time of crisis. This survey is one way in which you can stay connected with others.

I encourage you to take the survey, How has the covonavirus affected you, and share it with as many people as possible. Click here for the link.

Survey results will be sent to those who request them. Hopefully, seeing the results will reassure you that you are not alone.

Tragedies Have Always Existed

History shows us again and again that we are not alone. The world has always experienced widespread traumas—and now, it seems, it is our turn.

Fortunately, COVID-19 is not the Plague of Justinian, which killed half of the people in the world, or the Black Death (bubonic plague), which killed at least one-third of Europe’s population. Projections for the death toll of COVID-19 are nowhere near those figures. Like coronavirus, though, these plagues were pandemics.

Our forebears have been through other crises, although they were not of the magnitude of the two plagues. Many of them lived to tell their children and grandchildren about them, as we’ve experienced in our own families.

My paternal grandfather was my lifelong hero. He was strong and selfless, and he worked hard to take care of his family. He did everything necessary and more, without ever questioning why or complaining about the unfairness of life.

He and my grandmother lived through the 1918 flu pandemic (coinciding with World War I), which sickened and killed tens of millions of people. Doctors had no anti-viral medications or vaccines at the time. Social distancing worked, fortunately, for the cities that practiced it. However, there were few other tools society could count on to cope with the pandemic. Beyond social distancing, survival was a matter of luck more than anything else.

flu of 1918


My parents endured the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. They also lived through World War II. Like all Americans, they experienced rationing of such “luxury” items such as meat, sugar, and gasoline. They hoped and trusted that their children, and their children’s children, would never have to suffer the terror and deprivation they had faced.

They hoped in vain. My siblings and I experienced the Vietnam War (1969–1973) and the first Gulf Conflict in 1990. We saw the Twin Towers fall on September 11, 2001 and watched that indirectly lead to the Iraq War. We lived through the AIDS epidemic. We saw a mass shooting at Columbine in 1999, and then we watched as Sandy Hook and other schools in the United States also became scenes of carnage. We witnessed thousands of people needlessly lose their lives.

We also experienced two major stock market declines: the first in 1987 and the second in 2008. However, my wife and I assumed (perhaps as you did) that we would never face life challenges as great as those our parents and grandparents endured. We, too, were wrong.

We, along with our children, grandchildren, and the rest of the world, now face a pandemic that has already caused tens of thousands of deaths, closed businesses, and created mass unemployment. It may be too early to predict the eventual toll this will take on human lives. The resultant economic disaster is projected to be worse than the Great Depression. Some estimate that the U.S. could see more than a 30 percent unemployment rate far exceeding the joblessness numbers during the Great Depression. For those who survive, it may take years to recover from the economic disaster.

Now It Is Our Turn to Face Tragedy

This feels different from everything we have read about in history books. Tragedies are only stories until they happen to you.

People with chronic illnesses, people who are under-insured or un-insured, and those health care workers who are on the front lines risking their lives every day will likely be hit the hardest. However, this horror affects all of us. We find ourselves socially isolated, financially impoverished, frightened for our loved ones, worried about the unknown and, perhaps, dealing with serious illness. The lack of access to healthcare, medications, and even the basic necessities of life will impact our physical and mental health. Even if we ourselves aren’t suffering, people about whom we care certainly are.

However, it is times like this that can bring us together to fight a common enemy. During this time, the acts of decency, bravery, creativity, and generosity we see all around us should inspire us. If you follow #upworthy on Instagram, you can see hundreds of examples.

Someday, our children’s children will read about COVID-19 in history books. Surveys like this are one way we can record our challenges, feelings, and responses to these extraordinary days. Please take this survey and share the link widely. Thanks, and be well.


Lynn R. Webster, MD, is a vice president of scientific affairs for PRA Health Sciences and consults with the pharmaceutical industry. He is author of the award-winning book, The Painful Truth,” and co-producer of the documentary,It Hurts Until You Die.” Opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not reflect the views or policy of PRA Health Sciences.

You can find him on Twitter: @LynnRWebsterMD.



  1. Dr. Jeffrey Fudin on April 13, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Lynn, This is a phenomenal post. Thank you for putting things in perspective and for the history!

  2. Pamela Parker on April 22, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    It will require all of society to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to cushion the potentially devastating impact it may have on vulnerable people and economies.

    We must rebuild trust and cooperation, within and among nations, and between people and their governments.

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