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Some people listen to health experts, others ignore them: What it means for America's future with COVID-19

Carnegie Mellon University
the National Institute of Allergy
the White House
the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

Stephen Broomell
Jay Van Bavel
Anthony Fauci
Dick Cheney
Karen Weintraub


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New York

World Wars

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The New York Times
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"Unfortunately, wearing a mask wasn’t one of the behaviors that people adopted in the first weeks of the pandemic," Broomell said. Social media is ripe for conspiracy theories and misinformation, making it difficult for some people who get their news online to separate fact from fiction.Van Bavel says to encourage cross-pollination of good health-related behaviors, people should focus more on their shared sense of national identity. People concerned about safety will need reassurance; people of color will need to be engaged in a process that builds trust; and people worried about government overreach will need to be heard, said Monica Schoch-Spana, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.Visible leadership will be key."You're going to need people like the president getting a shot of the vaccine in a press conference," Van Bavel said. "What we wear, how we act, what we post on social media, those provide clues for other people about how to behave."Broomell says if people think about some changes as the new normal versus a response to a temporary crisis it may promote the healthy behaviors experts want to see."Exhaustion can come from, among other things, having to pay special attention to your behaviors, waiting for the day you no longer need to perform them, and not knowing when it will end. For certain behaviors, one way to help people maintain vigilance is to establish a norm for their performance," he said.People are resilient, and experts say it's worth reminding Americans what the country has already survived, including two brutal World Wars.To weather this crisis, people need to be reminded that their actions matter – that those actions are what will see the country through the pandemic with fewer lives lost."If we all pull together for six more months, the vaccines look to be on track and we might be through this," Van Bavel said.

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