NEW YORK TIMES – Many epidemiologists are already comfortable going to the doctor, socializing with small groups outside or bringing in mail, despite the coronavirus. But unless there’s an effective vaccine or treatment first, it will be more than a year before many say they will be willing to go to concerts, sporting events, or religious services. And some may never greet people with hugs or handshakes again.
These are the personal opinions of a group of 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists who were asked by The New York Times when they expect to resume 20 activities of daily life, assuming that the pandemic and the public health response to it unfold as they expect.
Their answers are not guidelines for the public, and incorporate respondents’ individual life circumstances, risk tolerance, and expectations about when there will be widespread testing, contact tracing, treatment, and vaccination for Covid-19. They said it’s these things that will determine their actions, because the virus sets the timeline.
Still, as policymakers lift restrictions and protests break out nationwide over police brutality, epidemiologists must make their own decisions about what they will do, despite the uncertainty — just like everyone else. They are more likely, though, to be immersed in the data about Covid-19 and have training on the dynamics of infectious disease and how to think about risk. They mostly agreed that outdoor activities and small groups were safer than being indoors or in a crowd, and that masks would be necessary for a long time.
On the question of sending a child to school, camp, or daycare, Pitt Public Health social epidemiologist Christina Mair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences responded that she’d do it this summer. Mair is “willing to take more risks with this, even though it's not a low-risk activity, as it is more 'necessary' than other, lower-risk activities.”
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from When 511 Epidemiologists Expect to Fly, Hug and Do 18 Other Everyday Activities Again by Margot Sanger-Katz, Claire Cain Miller, and Quoctrung Bui, The New York Times June 8, 2020