Why the risk of getting coronavirus is not enough to keep people apart

Why the risk of getting coronavirus is not enough to keep people apart

Despite calls by officials to practice social isolation and avoid overcrowded parks and beaches in order to control the spread of coronavirus, many do not seem to understand the concept. As a result, governors across the country decided to close the parks and recreation areas, leaving others who abided by the rules exasperated by the actions of their neighbors.

And while young people in the country are almost expected to engage in “risky” behavior, many adults are also guilty of breaking the rules of social distancing.

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“The way we process risk information prevents us from understanding how risky it is to be in contact with others,” Professor Catherine Tinsley of the University’s McDonough School of Business told Fox News from Georgetown. “There is something called a” near-accident “bias, that is: when people engage in an activity that they know is risky but does not happen to them nothing wrong, they tend to ignore that the good result is partly due to luck. “

In fact, said Tinsley, a risk management and decision-making expert, every time someone experiences a “near miss”, they become more likely to reduce the risk and less likely to take protective measures. .

“For example, if I thought there was a 10% chance of getting infected when I went out with my friends to my favorite coffee shop, it might sound a bit risky, but I really want to hang out with my friends, I’m going anyway, ”she said. “The more I go, without negative repercussions, the more I think that the 10% chance of infection is not very risky, and therefore not only I am more likely to go out to coffee, [but I am also] more likely to go elsewhere because the risk of infection no longer seems risky. These “near miss” experiences play on our gut feelings of whether something is dangerous or not. “

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And with an COVID-19 incubation period of up to 14 days, Tinsley said that the gap between risky behavior and negative outcomes makes it more difficult for people to associate with one another. other.

“If you mingle with others and you are infected, the result is usually known several days later,” she said. “This time lag makes it more difficult for people to believe that any particular action five days ago was responsible.”

For teens who have returned from school and away from their friends for several weeks at this point, the risk may seem harmless.

“As all parents of a teenager know, these kids tend to feel more invincible than we do,” said Tinsley. “They like to hang out with their peers away from home, and they tend to have a higher discount rate on risky behaviors. Add this trend to the aforementioned “near miss” bias and delay in infection and you have a perfect storm to have them interpreted every time they spend time with friends without any immediate negative repercussions, as evidence that the social distance counseling is silly and uninformed. “

But it is the younger generations, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, who can play a crucial role in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

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“I especially want to speak to our older generations now, our millennials,” said Birx at a press conference last week. “I am the mother of two wonderful young women of the millennium who are bright and hard working, and I will tell you what I told them: they are the central group that will stop this virus. They are the group that communicates successfully regardless of picking up a phone. They intuitively know how to contact each other without being in a large social gathering. “

But Birx added later, they are still the group that is risking the safety of others around them who may be more susceptible to the disease. A furious New York government, Cuomo, whose state has seen more than 33,000 illnesses, said that city parks this weekend looked like any other weekend with large groups people hanging around, risking further spreading the virus.

“Quite simply, the more people hanging out together, refusing to distance themselves socially, the more they put themselves in danger,” said Tinsley. “And ironically enough, the less they feel that this behavior is really risky.”

Tinsley said one way to change this behavior would be to change the message from national leaders who often send mixed signals to the public. She also said that modeling social distancing behavior is crucial to getting the message out, but that it is often overlooked during formal briefings and press conferences.

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“These mixed messages are extremely detrimental to their adoption,” she said. “We can hardly expect people to swallow advice that begins as a bitter pill and then is undermined by voices and actions that encourage us to ignore the bitter pill.”

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