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We Aren’t Coming Out

empty streets of Wuhan, China
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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

As various states are loosening stay-at-home orders, we are seeing more people in public spaces. But there are a significant number of Americans who aren’t coming out any time soon. The media will naturally focus on the number of people at stores, malls, and parks and probably ignore people staying home.

A survey commissioned by Vital Vio concluded that about 40 percent of Americans plan to avoid public spaces unless “absolutely necessary” long after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. The survey was of 1,000 US adults and isn’t a perfect survey of American attitudes but does give a hint as to what we might expect over the next few months.

Digging down into the survey you also discover that about a third will wait a few weeks, and a quarter (26%) will wait one or two months. Even more surprising was the fact that some respondents (16%) said they were unsure if they would ever feel comfortable out in public again.

When I have shared that last statistic, many people has trouble believing it. But think about who would be in that percentage. It would certainly include people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It would likely include people who have a suppressed immune system due to chemotherapy or other factors. It would also include people who already had signs of agoraphobia or paranoid fears.

I might also mention that these concerns not only will influence whether some people will feel comfortable in public places, but how they will feel in other people’s homes. A majority (58%) said they would be suspicious about their friend’s and family’s hygiene habits. This might even change our traditions of family reunions and Thanksgiving dinners.

The lockdown seems to be changing some of our perceptions about public spaces and even family gatherings. This might be one more example of moving to a new normal.

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