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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has rapidly spread, originating in Wuhan province, China, in late 2019 and making its way around the world in a matter of months. The outbreak is overwhelming intensive care units and health care capacity. According to the World Health Organization, as of May 20, 2020, there are 4 761 559 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 317 529 COVID-19-related deaths across 216 countries, areas, and territories.1 To cope with the rapid spread of the outbreak, governments have implemented swift, wide-ranging public health emergency measures that include social restrictions and quarantines. Among these are daily updates to travel bans (nationally and internationally), stay-at-home orders for nonessential workers, and the shutdown of all nonessential businesses. These steps to mitigate the spread of the virus influence the lives of billions across the globe. Since the start of the outbreak, there has been widespread stigma and rejection of individuals living in or coming from affected communities, individuals with underlying illnesses, the elderly population, and first responders. While the physical risk (eg, pneumonia, respiratory breakdown) is getting the most scientific and clinical attention, emerging data suggest that this outbreak presents substantial risk for widespread mental health problems and psychological fear-related responses.
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Corresponding Author: Yuval Neria, PhD, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Unit 69, 1051 Riverside Dr, New York, NY 10032 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: June 24, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.1730
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Neria has received grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and nonfinancial support from New York State Psychiatric Institute. No other disclosures were reported.
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