How to han­dle friends and fam­ily who think the pan­demic is over

WHAT SHOULD YOU SAY TO FRIENDS AND FAM­ILY MEM­BERS WHO THINK THE PAN­DEMIC IS OVER?

Merced Sun-Star - - Classified­s - By Han­nah Her­rera Greenspan

A: The COVID-19 pan­demic is not over. It’s still here, it never went away, and it’s not go­ing any­where un­til there is a vac­cine avail­able.

This virus is very in­fec­tious. It’s more in­fec­tious than in­fluenza, so we re­ally need to be more vig­i­lant. States re­open­ing may give some a false sense of se­cu­rity be­cause, again, the pan­demic is not over.

If friends or fam­ily mem­bers call COVID-19 a hoax on Face­book, don’t en­gage on­line, be­cause so­cial me­dia is not a re­al­is­tic place to have a con­ver­sa­tion. En­gag­ing with loved ones who don’t be­lieve in the dan­gers of the pan­demic is not worth your men­tal en­gage­ment. It’s so frus­trat­ing to see the lack of com­pas­sion from some peo­ple who refuse to see past them­selves.

If you are go­ing to go out and en­gage in so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, take the proper pre­cau­tions and wear a mask, es­pe­cially as cases rise in the U.S. If you want to sup­port lo­cal restau­rants and bars, try or­der­ing take­out, din­ing out­side or mak­ing a con­scious ef­fort to only go to places that are main­tain­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing pro­to­cols and re­quire masks. — Emma Kate Loveday, post­doc­toral re­searcher and vi­rol­o­gist

A: This pan­demic is so large and ter­ri­fy­ing that many would pre­fer to pre­tend it’s not hap­pen­ing. That’s a cop­ing mech­a­nism.

It may seem un­healthy, but avoid­ance is the only way some peo­ple know how to make it through these his­toric events.

The best way to com­mu­ni­cate to peo­ple liv­ing with this de­nial is to only speak in facts and to avoid per­sonal sto­ries or feel­ings.

“I think you should wear a mask” is a state­ment that in­vites con­ver­sa­tion, but “Sev­eral coun­tries have cut their num­ber of in­fec­tions over 50 per­cent by sim­ply hav­ing cit­i­zens wear masks; it’s proven to re­duce the spread of in­fec­tion” tells other peo­ple they’ll have to do re­search to keep up with this con­ver­sa­tion.

If strict facts don’t work, it’s time to take a good look at the re­la­tion­ship. Lan­guage like “I wish you would be care­ful” could work, but “If you keep be­ing un­safe dur­ing this pan­demic, I can’t be close to you un­til it’s over” sets a stan­dard. If the per­son didn’t know be­fore how se­ri­ous this pan­demic was, then hear­ing some­one close to them draw a line says it’s time to start lis­ten­ing.

Yes, restau­rants are re­open­ing, but some have al­ready closed again af­ter staff mem­bers have be­come in­fected with the coro­n­avirus. For ev­ery inch for­ward, it can feel like we jump 6 feet back.

We have to help each other. So, keep talk­ing. Keep telling the truth. Keep show­ing facts, and don’t back down. If they care about you, they will lis­ten and, hope­fully, change, be­cause what you’re ask­ing them to do is in­cred­i­bly low-ef­fort.

Your safety mat­ters, and it’s time for us all to get bet­ter at ver­bal­iz­ing that our health is wor­thy of dis­cus­sion. — Ike Holter, Chicago play­wright and screen­writer

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Learn to stand up for your own safety, even if that means dis­agree­ing with a fam­ily mem­ber or friend. If strict facts don’t work, lan­guage like “If you keep be­ing un­safe dur­ing this pan­demic, I can’t be close to you un­til it’s over” sets a stan­dard.

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