It was hard to learn how to behave during a pandemic. Now that the CDC’s mask mandates are coming to an end, we have a new challenge: unlearning. Center Director Jeffrey Cole explains.
This week, in the most positive sign yet (after vaccines) that we can see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel, the CDC lifted almost all outdoor and indoor mask mandates for those who have been vaccinated.
Since March of 2020, the CDC (and the rest of us) have had to deal with those who didn’t believe the Coronavirus was real, those who would not wear a mask, and most recently and dangerous for all, those who will not get a vaccine. To get people vaccinated, Shake Shack is offering free hamburgers and fries, West Virginia a $100 savings bond, and Ohio a weekly lottery with a grand prize of $1 million.
Getting people to re-consider deeply held beliefs and change behavior is a difficult business. Bribes may not be enough.
Now, as we make enormous progress in moving past COVID, we will face an entirely new and equally challenging problem: how to convince vaccinated people when it’s time to take off their masks.
It’s easy to categorize all the deniers into a group that does not listen to the science. It’s harder to classify those who have been carefully following the experts’ advice and now are reluctant to move past masks, staying at home, and general fear. To be sure, we still have a way to go before the virus is completely contained.
But we can already see signs that — even with vaccines, rapidly diminishing new cases, and even more drastic reductions in hospitalizations and deaths, as well as new guidance from scientists — there will be equally stubborn holdouts who refuse to change their behaviors to match the changing facts. (more)