Are You Still Taking COVID-19 Seriously?

Do you still wear a mask in public? Practice social distancing? Have you included constant hand washing in your daily routine?

A poll conducted by Frank Luntz and the de Beaumont Foundation surveyed about 1,100 registered voters in November 2020 and put out a press release about its findings. The poll uncovered a discrepancy in opinions about the coronavirus. 

The opinions differed by political affiliation, and there was a clear difference among members of the 2 main political parties. Based on the findings, 62% of Democrats considered the pandemic as ‘extremely serious’, while a mere 33% of Republicans had the same view. This also reflected in their response on how to best manage the effects as Republicans favored stopping the restrictions and learning to live with the virus, while Democrats were in support of enforcing the restrictions a bit more as cases were on the increase. It is believed that Republicans do not consider the pandemic seriously, partly because in communicating safety measures, officials have used language that seems ‘’invasive of their constitutional rights’’.

The Press release as reported by advisory.com highlighted shortcomings in how public health officials communicated with the public about the virus and how to improve the effectiveness subsequently. The findings include:

  • A suggestion that scientists and medical professionals speak publicly on the virus, rather than politicians.
  • Emphasize that quicker economic growth is possible if the right steps are taken immediately, which include the preventive and restrictive measures to reduce the number of cases.
  • Saying ‘’protocols’’ when referring to safety measures rather than ‘’directives’’ or ‘mandates’.
  • Using ‘’Stay-at-home-order’’ in favor of ‘‘lockdown’’.

These are some of the concerns and questions raised following the recent increase in the number of new cases of infections from the coronavirus. This surge has prompted thoughts around the possibility of a fourth wave. 

A month ago, the New York Times reported that President Joe Biden encouraged states and cities to restore the face mask directive. He also admonished Americans to behave responsibly. He mentioned that the inability to consider the seriousness of the virus was what got the country into the present situation and taking caution would go a long way.

According to a report from CIDRAP, (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy), coronavirus cases and hospitalizations increased 19% in 2 weeks before the report. They also noted a spike in northeastern states. It is also important to note that the variants of the virus are superseding the less transmissible strains.

The same report also mentioned a 57% increase in infections in Michigan and a 47% increase in hospitalizations, in less than a month after the restrictions were eased up.

As much as it would be nice to improve personally on your preventive measures, there is not much you can do, when it comes to other people and their practices. Flanagan, LCSW, MPH, MA, an oncology social worker, responded to this concern in a report on Piedmont Healthcare, He advised that in this situation, effective communication is preferred above all else.

He recommends an initial assessment of how much the individual’s behavior would affect your safety. If it is a distant relative or someone with lesser chances of encountering, then there should be less concern. He advised a discussion with the person if the person comes within your personal space more frequently. He recommends using ‘’I’’ statements in favor of ‘’you’’ as it was not possible to control another individual. Statements such as ‘’I would appreciate wearing a mask for everyone’s health and safety’’ If this does not make much difference, he suggests re-evaluating time spent and consider virtual encounters with the individual for subsequent meetings.

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