Covid-19 cases are up around the country, even in places that had low rates over the summer. In response, many states have increased restrictions and emphasized the need to prevent transmission. People are not listening.
Families continue to make Thanksgiving plans. Large gatherings are continuing despite the warnings. This is happening outside of the United States, as well. There’s a phrase for this: “pandemic fatigue.” People are tired of changing their behavior because of the coronavirus.
None of this should be surprising. People are often reluctant to do things they might find unpleasant to improve their health. The American government spends millions of dollars every year to educate the public about a healthy diet, for example. And yet most of this advice is ignored.
In my own work, I find little evidence of people changing their diet despite getting a diagnosis of diabetes. The same pattern occurs with infectious diseases. Even at the peak of the H.I.V. epidemic, before widespread treatments were available, data from several countries in sub-Saharan Africa showed limited reductions in risky sexual behavior.
It is even more difficult to get people to make changes for the health of others.