Regular Programming
1:00am - 7:00am
Regular Programming
COVID-19 News

iStock/sdominic(LOS ANGELES) -- The class of 2020 has seen their real-life graduation ceremonies canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but really, would dozens of stars have shown up to their event without it? 

That's the idea behind the YouTube Originals event Dear Class of 2020, an online, all-star commencement extravaganza now taking place Sunday, June 7 at 3 p.m. ET. The event, which will unite dozens of stars from the world of movies, music, and TV, was bumped a day out of respect of the memorial for George Floyd, which will happen Saturday.

Dear Class of 2020 will see this year's graduating class honored by the casts of The Simpsons and HBO's Euphoria, as well as by Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Pine, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Michael B Jordan, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Kerry Washington, and Jake Gyllenhaal, among many others. 

Katy Perry will also send her best wishes, as will Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. There also will be musical performances from Coldplay's Chris Martin, and Lizzo.

Musicians who will make appearances include Billie Eilish, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Snoop Dogg, and Justin Timberlake.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Paramount Pictures(LONDON) -- Tom Cruise and Paramount are apparently sparing no expense to get the COVID-19-delayed Mission: Impossible 7 movie back on track -- including transforming an old British military base into an isolated community for cast and crew. 

The Sun reports the abandoned RAF site in Oxfordshire will shelter the movie's cast, who will reportedly be staying in VIP trailers and interacting only with each other so they can rehearse without fear of outside contamination from the virus. 

A source tells the publication, "The film has already been heavily delayed and there’s no sign of things going totally back to normal any time soon, so this is a way to try to get things up and moving again quickly and safely." 

Production had begun in February in Venice, Italy, until the virus began to take hold. A hasty retreat to Rome proved short-lived, and production was soon shuttered altogether. 

The move to the U.K. airbase has another advantage, according to the insider, who claims, "It's also tough to get hotel rooms at the moment as most of them are shut for the foreseeable future, so it was this or delay things for even longer. It will mean some of the world's biggest stars all living together in a posh campsite while working alongside the rest of the team."

Mission: Impossible 7 reunites Cruise's Ethan Hunt with returning players Vanessa Kirby, Ving Rhames, Angela Bassett, Simon Pegg and Henry Czerny, with series newcomers Esai Morales and Marvel movie alumna Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff.

The source adds, "It's pricey but Tom always does things bigger and better than anyone, and there's a hell of a lot riding on this film."

Mission: Impossible 7 production is expected to resume in September.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/Lisa5201(NEW YORK) -- A new poll shows that Americans spend more than 6,259 hours a year on their digital devices, an average of 382,652 hours and 48 minutes in an average lifespan.  And screen time has only grown during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The non-scientific poll of 2,000 adults, commissioned by for Vision Direct, also revealed that three quarters of all those Americans polled say they would have been lost without their screens in this time of social distancing.  

Up to four-and-a-half hours a day on average are spent watching TV during lockdown.  Five hours are spent on laptops, four hours and 33 minutes on smartphones, and three hours and 12 minutes using gaming devices.  All of those figured represent jumps from pre-pandemic numbers, with the biggest jump -- 39 minutes -- seen in TV viewing.

While citizens spent about 17 hours a day on screens overall pre-lockdown, that number jumped to 19 during lockdown.  In fact, 75% of us say we'd be "lost" without our comforting screens, the poll finds.

Twenty percent of those polled say once their screens are on, they never take a break from them throughout the day, with six in 10 adults saying their screen time habits have caused static in their relationships. 

And while studies have shown that those millions of workers who have turned to remote work are in fact more productive than when they're in the office, this poll shows some remote workers' gadgets are making them feel less productive. 

More than half say they take breaks from work by checking Facebook, 42% say they find themselves watching YouTube, and 10% admitted to ducking into Twitter while working.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/supersizer(NEW YORK) -- Your dog or cat doesn't know why you've been working home since the COVID-19 pandemic demanded it, but they're sure happy about the extra face time -- and chances are you are, too. 

In fact, according to a new survey, 20% of people working from home say they prefer working alongside their dog or cat more than any human colleague they used to work with.

The non-scientific poll of 1,000 remote workers commissioned by Washington State-based Banfield Animal Hospital also shows that spending more time with their pet has boosted worker happiness at home: 39% credit pets with easing their anxiety during the pandemic, and 65% say they've shown their pets more affection during lockdown.

For most pets, that's translating into treats: 33% of pet owners working from home say their furry friends have gained weight during the quarantine time, much as many of their human companions have.

Thirty-three percent of respondents say they feel more attuned to their pets than they did prior to the lockdowns, with 38% saying they've found their pets appear to be happier than before.

The poll also noted that 47% of millennials admitted to getting emotional support from their pets, as opposed to 43% of those in the older Gen Z group, and the 43% in the older still Gen Xers.

In fact, 47% of pet owners say they're talking to their pets more than they did before the pandemic, with cat owners doing so more often than dog owners, 51% vs 47%. Women tended to talk to their pets more often than men, with 50% admitting to doing so, but men weren't far behind, at 47%.

Perhaps no surprise then that 73% of those workers say they're worried about leaving their pets at home when they eventually have to return to the office.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Here's the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus as of 9:20 a.m. ET.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 6,663,729
Global deaths: 391,656.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 108,211.
Number of countries/regions: at least 188
Total patients recovered globally: 2,890,799

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 1,872,660 diagnosed cases in 50 states the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 108,211.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 30,174.
U.S. total patients recovered: 485,002
U.S. total people tested: 18,680,529

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in New York, with 375,133 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 19.5 million.  That is the most reported cases than in any other single region in the world.  Moscow, Russia is next, with 191,069 reported cases out of a total population of at least 12.5 million.

Latest reported deaths per state
Visit https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html for the latest numbers.

School closures
For a state-by-state interactive map of current school closures, please visit the Education Week website, where numbers are updated once daily.

There are 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.

The latest headlines
Unemployment in May falls to 13.3% as businesses begin to reopen
The U.S. unemployment rate for May fell to 13.3% from the previously reported level of 14.8% in April, according to figures released Friday morning from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The decline is a surprise to most experts, who had been forecasting an unemployment rate of 20%, if not higher, especially given the additional 1.87 million Americans who filed for unemployment in the week ending May 30.  “These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report.  “In May, employment rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade,” the report declares, also noting, “By contrast, employment in government continued to decline sharply.”  Unemployment declined the most among adult men and women, white workers and Hispanics.  It remained largely unchanged for teens, black workers and Asians.  Not so good news: the number of permanent job losers, rather than those workers thought to be on temporary furlough, increased by 295,000 in May to 2.3 million.

Nursing home COVID-19 deaths as high as 32,000
After weeks of both anecdotal and verified reports of high COVID-19 mortality rates at U.S. nursing homes and assisted care facilities, new government data shows pandemic deaths there number nearly 32,000.  Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the week ending May 31 shows there were 31,782 COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents, as well as 58,288 total suspected coronavirus cases and 95,515 confirmed cases.  With U.S. COVID-19 deaths numbering 108,211 as of Friday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University, the CMS numbers show nursing home deaths account for nearly 30% of all pandemic deaths in America.  Accepting conventional wisdom from experts that the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. is likely significantly higher, it’s also likely that the number of nursing home COVID-19 infections and deaths is higher than reported.  Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are seeing higher rates of infection and deaths in part because of the generally poor premorbid health of the residents, coupled with close living proximity, and often poorly trained staff and/or a lack of adequate number of staff.

NBA announces plan to resume games July 31
The NBA announced Thursday that they’ve set a date of July 31 to resume its season, with the first game in Orlando.  The NBA Board of Governors has approved a tentative format that will see 22 teams out of 30 play eight regular-season games, with the NBA Finals ending no later than October 12.  However, games would be played without fans in attendance, ESPN reported.  The NBA Board of Governors’ approval is the first step in resuming the season, the league said.  The NBA’s also in the process of finalizing a plan with the NBA Players Association, as well as an agreement with The Walt Disney Company, parent company of ABC News, to use Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, as a single site for all games, practices and housing for the rest of the season.  Additionally, the NBA said it’s working with public health and infectious disease experts to develop a plan to resume the season while also preventing the potential spread of COVID-19 among players.  According to ESPN, that includes daily testing for the coronavirus and other safety protocols.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



wanderluster/iStock(NEW YORK) -- After weeks of both anecdotal and verified reports of high COVID-19 mortality rates at U.S. nursing homes and assisted care facilities, new government data shows pandemic deaths there number nearly 32,000. 

Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the week ending May 31 shows there were 31,782 COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents, as well as 58,288 total suspected coronavirus cases and 95,515 confirmed cases. 

With U.S. COVID-19 deaths numbering 108,211 as of Friday morning, the CMS numbers show nursing home deaths account for nearly 30% of all pandemic deaths in America.

Accepting conventional wisdom from experts that the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. is likely significantly higher, it’s also likely that the number of nursing home COVID-19 infections and deaths is higher than reported. 

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are seeing higher rates of infection and deaths in part because of the generally poor premorbid health of the residents, coupled with close living proximity, and often poorly trained staff and/or a lack of adequate number of staff.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/JLGutierrez (NEW YORK) -- Since the first COVID-19 case was first reported in the U.S., the virus has devastated the economy and the American work force.  On Thursday, an additional 1.9 million workers filed for unemployment and pushed the total job loss to 42 million.  The country began shedding jobs around mid-March. 

This is the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.  

A May jobs report is due out today, which will provide a broader picture of the economic impact of COVID-19.  

Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao explained why economists are dreading this report. "The steady drumbeat of UI claims in May is likely enough to push the unemployment rate in Friday’s jobs report into the high teens, if not over 20 percent," he said. "But there is growing disagreement among economists about whether May will represent the worst of the crisis for the job market."

"While UI claims have acted as a useful real-time indicator thus far, we may soon enter a phase where UI claims understate the health of the labor market as claims remain elevated but hiring picks up," Zhao added.

However, the world is cautiously reopening, with airlines now adding summer flights to their schedules now that air travel is slowly recovering.

Reopening the economy has been a staunch goal for President Donald Trump, who is eager to return to the campaign trail.  He has not held any rallies for three months.

The president will resume in-person campaigning next week for a "summer kick off," as said by Trump Victory, the joint effort between the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee.

RNC National Press Secretary Mandi Merritt said, "Starting next week, Trump Victory field teams will resume in person volunteer activities and campaigning where states allow. Just as Trump Victory was able to transition to virtual campaigning in less than 24 hours, our teams across the country will seamlessly adapt again just as efficiently."

Currently, President Trump is lagging in the polls in a matchup against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.  Biden currently leads by 10 points, according to a new Monmouth national poll. 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



da-kuk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 stands at 107,685 as of Thursday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But that number could be four times higher by this time next year, says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. 

"All of the best models suggest that another 100,000 will die over the next three to four months if we continue to have 1,000 deaths a day," Dr. Jha said during an online forum Wednesday, sponsored by the government’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. 

"It is entirely possible that by next spring, by the time we might get a vaccine, 300,000 [to] 400,000 Americans will have died from this disease," Jha said, citing the national lifting of lockdowns, increasing civil unrest, and a lack of testing as primary drivers of increasing infections, which he also called “wholly preventable” with proper attention.

The United States continues to have more deaths from COVID-19 than any other nation.  The U.K. is a distant second, with 39,987.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Aaron Epstein/NETFLIX(LOS ANGELES) -- In the role of Elaine's sleepy-eyed, face-painting, on-again-off-again boyfriend David Puddy, Patrick Warburton only appeared in nine regular season episodes of Seinfeld -- but his character left an impression strong enough that even die-hard fans swear he was in more. 

Now the star, who is also a regular voice on Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, can be seen in Space Force, Steve Carell's new Netflix workplace comedy.

"That was a lot of fun to just to get invited to the party there. I play the head of the Marines, Warburton tells ABC Audio. "That was a great opportunity...to get to work with Steve, who's an awesome dude and [I've] always been a big fan of his."

Space Force is about the team tasked with establishing the United States Space Force, and Warburton says he's surprised that critics "were a little rough on" the comedy.

"This is a whole different animal...because even though it's Steve Carell with the creators of The Office, it's not The Office," he points out. "It's a different type of show, I think, with elements of that type of humor...I find it enjoyable to watch."

As for his Seinfeld alter-ego, Warburton says he's found himself thinking of Puddy while in lockdown.

"Sometimes you just find him sitting on the couch, staring out from the distance. When he's flying on the plane with Elaine, just staring at the back seat, didn't need a magazine," he recalls.

"And I thought, 'You know what? That's the personality you really need during a pandemic because, after a while, you just can't watch any more shows or play online backgammon."

"He seems to be just fine in the empty space in his head," Warburton jokes. "He's not stupid, just meditative. He's a deep, deep guy."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Chris Tucker(LOS ANGELES) -- It seems like just about everybody has been baking while under COVID-19 lockdown, at least according to countless social media posts of freshly-made sourdough and banana bread. 

A recent study found that online searches for banana bread recipes topped 2.7 million in April -- a nearly 590% increase from April of 2019. 

So what's up with that?

"I think everybody was just looking for something to do with all of their nervous energy," Chris Tucker, the owner of Betta with Butta and a veteran of The Great American Baking Show, tells ABC Audio. "Everyone's cooped up inside. People that are used to being artistic out of the house, they found themselves trapped inside the house. And so now they're like, 'Well, what can I do artistically from home?'"

To help, Tucker's Betta with Butta started selling pre-packaged baking kits that can be shipped to your door.  He says, "We just knew that we had to start something that was going to allow people to do their celebrations at home, allow people to get those indulgences at home."

A portion of the proceeds from the kits benefit the COVID Relief Fund.

Tucker adds, "We just want people to get in the kitchen. We wanted people to experiment...to just satisfy those cravings, that we're going to make them smile from their stomachs and just have some type of relief from everything that's going on in the world."

Tucker thinks the at-home cooking trend will continue post-pandemic. "It's probably showing a lot of people that they, too, can be a baker," he says. "They, too, can be a chef. And I think it's going to really inspire people to start doing more at home even when our food industry does get back up and running."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Here's the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus as of 9:15 a.m. ET.

Latest reported numbers globally per Johns Hopkins University
Global diagnosed cases: 6,535,019
Global deaths: 386,464.  The United States has the most deaths of any single country, with 107,175.
Number of countries/regions: at least 188
Total patients recovered globally: 2,824,722

Latest reported numbers in the United States per Johns Hopkins University
There are at least 1,851,520 diagnosed cases in 50 states the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  This is more than in any other country.
U.S. deaths: at least 107,175.  New York State has the greatest number of reported deaths in the U.S., with 30,019.
U.S. total patients recovered: 479,258
U.S. total people tested: 18,214,950

The greatest number of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is in New York, with 374,085 confirmed cases out of a total state population of 19.5 million.  That is the most reported cases than in any other single region in the world.  Moscow, Russia is next, with 189,214 reported cases out of a total population of at least 12.5 million.

Latest reported deaths per state
Visit https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html for the latest numbers.

School closures
For a state-by-state interactive map of current school closures, please visit the Education Week website, where numbers are updated once daily.

There are 98,277 public schools and 34,576 private schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those schools educate almost 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.

The latest headlines
Expert warns US could see up to 400,000 COVID-19 deaths by spring 2021
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 stands at just over 107,000 as of Thursday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.  But that number could be four times higher by this time next year, says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.  "All of the best models suggest that another 100,000 will die over the next three to four months if we continue to have 1,000 deaths a day," Dr. Jha said during an online forum Wednesday, sponsored by the government’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.  "It is entirely possible that by next spring, by the time we might get a vaccine, 300,000 [to] 400,000 Americans will have died from this disease," Jha said, citing the national lifting of lockdowns, increasing civil unrest, and a lack of testing as primary drivers of increasing infections, which he also called “wholly preventable” with proper attention.

An additional 1.87 million Americans apply for unemployment
A further 1,877,000 Americans applied for unemployment in the week ending May 30, according to data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor.  That number is down by 249,000 from the number of reported unemployment applications the week before, which were themselves revised up by 3,000.  The new numbers bring to roughly 42 million the number of Americans who have applied for unemployment in the 11 weeks since nationwide lockdowns began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in shuttered businesses and widespread layoffs.  The good news, modest though it is, is that unemployment applications continue to trend lower.  Some 14.8% of Americans are now unemployed as of the week ending May 23.  However, when complete numbers for the month of May are released Friday, that percentage is expected to rise to at least 20%, which would be the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. since the Great Depression.

Another study finds hydroxychloroquine ineffective in treating COVID-19
The results of a new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, finds hydroxychloroquine was in effective in treating people infected with COVID-19.  Hydroxychloroquine is widely prescribed to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis but received widespread attention in part after President Trump repeatedly touted it as a drug that can both treat and prevent COVID-19, despite no solid evidence to support those claims.  The NEJM study, said to be the first double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial of hydroxychloroquine, found otherwise, concluded the drug “did not prevent illness compatible with Covid-19 or confirmed infection.  Other studies of the drug have reached the same or similar conclusions, while additional studies are ongoing.  The British medical journal Lancet reported last month that subjects taking hydroxychloroquine also demonstrated a higher risk of death and heart problems.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Ellen Matthews/NBC(NEW YORK) -- With protests erupting across the nation demanding justice for George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, health officials have raised concerns about the demonstrations sparking a second wave of COVID-19.

Despite that a majority of protestors have been photographed wearing masks, it's the lack of social distancing that has health officials worried.

Saturday Night Live star Chris Redd is also concerned about the possibility of a spike in new cases, particularly within the black community, which has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.  The stand-up comedian has announced that he was inspired to organize a COVID-19 fundraiser to explicitly benefit protestors.

"I’m working on a relief fund for front line protestors who may contract COVID19 over the next couple of weeks due to body to body contact," Redd declared on Twitter. "I would hate for my people fighting for justice struggle later because of it."

The fund went live on Tuesday, with the SNL star excitedly proclaiming "Give if you can, share if it’s in your heart!! #BlackLivesMatter and more to come!!"

Redd vows in the GoFundMe's welcoming message that all the money raised will go directly toward "those that contract this disease while protesting" and help cover "other protest related injuries." 

He also broke down exactly what the funds will pay for: COVID-19 testing, medical bills, bail relief, and treating injuries sustained while protesting.

The 35-year-old also acknowledged that, "We haven't been able to get ahead of COVID-19 thus far, but this is certainly another step in the right direction!"

So far, more than 4,000 people have donated to Redd's COVID-19 Protest Relief Fund.  As of early Thursday, the charity raised over $213,000 and is rapidly approaching its $250,000 fundraising goal.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/Moyo Studio (NEW YORK) -- With over 383,000 dead and more than 6.39 million sickened due to COVID-19, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization cautioned of a concerning new trend.  Positive cases worldwide have climbed by 100,000 in just five days.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that the organization noticed a swift uptick in cases in Central and South America, noting that cases are "accelerating."

Brazil is now the second-hardest hit country in the world, with over 555,000 cases, says Johns Hopkins University.

As for Europe, Tedros said there's been encouraging progress, "Yesterday saw the fewest cases reported in Europe since the 22nd of March." 

When it comes to the U.S. -- the hardest-hit nation in the world -- a grim new report estimates that, by next spring, 400,000 Americans may die from the virus.

Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said Wednesday, "All of the best models suggest that another 100,000 will die over the next three to four months if we continue to have 1,000 deaths a day."  

Jha added, "It is entirely possible that by next spring, by the time we might get a vaccine, 300,000 to 400,000 Americans will have died from this disease" -- adding that the deaths are "wholly preventable." 

However, as Jha notes, it will take "smart policy and accountability from the federal government."

Currently, COVID-19 has sickened more than 1.8 million people and killed at least 107,093 -- says Johns Hopkins University.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/alvintus(PENNSYLVANIA) -- Scientists at Penn State and the University of Minnesota say they've developed new tech that could lead to hand-held lights everyone can use to kill COVID-19. 

Currently, UV light-emitting machines are employed destroy the virus and others like it. However, these are often bulky machines that suffer from a short battery life.  New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority has begun using these devices to disinfect subway cars and other facilities in light of the pandemic, but these are power-sapping mounted lamps, the bulbs of which contain mercury.  What's more, the boxy units and necessary power cables aren't terribly portable.

However, according to the researchers' work published in the journal Physics Communications, they've employed a newly discovered class of transparent conductors -- a material called strontium niobate -- that when coupled with energy efficient UV LEDs, wiped out the virus.

This battery-friendly breakthrough could be employed to disinfect entire theaters and sports stadiums, and someday could lead to a pocket-sized light disinfectant units for personal use.

Joseph Roth, doctoral candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State, said, "While our first motivation in developing UV transparent conductors was to build an economic solution for water disinfection, we now realize that this breakthrough discovery potentially offers a solution to deactivate COVID-19 in aerosols that might be distributed in HVAC systems of buildings." 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/anamejia18(LONDON) -- If you have young kids, you already know they've been missing school, baseball games and playdates thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns the world over. 

However, new research from the University of Bath in England shows that their feelings of loneliness and depression can linger, even after restrictions are eased and life returns to normal.

The scientists findings, just published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, were culled from data from 60 peer-reviewed journal articles on social isolation and mental health in children aged 4-21.

The researchers say the mental health consequences of isolation can linger in younger people for as long as nine years. 

Dr. Maria Loades, a Bath University clinical psychologist, said in a statement, "There is evidence that it's the duration of loneliness as opposed to the intensity which seems to have the biggest impact on depression rates in young people."

While Dr. Loades and company advise, "returning to some degree of normality as soon as possible is of course important," the scientists warn, "how this process is managed matters when it comes to shaping young people's feelings and experiences about this period."

Their findings prompted a letter to the United Kingdom's Education Secretary, outlining these tips to best re-adapt young people as schools start to reopen, as they are in parts of Europe and elsewhere:

  • All children must be given time to play with each other as lockdown restrictions are lifted, but children should still practice social distancing while playing together.
  • Schools should prioritize the emotional well-being of their students as they begin to reopen rather than focus on academics.
  • Schools and parents should be made aware of the social and emotional benefits of play as well as the potential risks children face from extended isolation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.