Patience with Covid-19 restrictions is wearing thin. Groups of people are protesting to open up restrictions. Trump has repeatedly called for an early return to normalcy as virus-related closings have had a crushing effect on American workers and businesses. In Annapolis, MD, hundreds of people filled the streets last week to demand the governor lift restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. The same is true in Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia where large groups of people are not maintaining social distance or wearing face masks.
Others have said that lifting restrictions prematurely will only prolong the pandemic. So, what’s going on here? Why do some people strictly observe restrictions, while others purposefully flaunt social distance and virus protection measures?
Some people are selfishly seeking their own pleasure, such as students filling beaches during what should have been their spring break. Youth tend to be focused on me and mine, and are not always sensitive to the consequences of their behavior on larger social networks. It is the nature of youth to perceive that nothing bad will ever happen to them. They lack life experience to teach them otherwise. But what about others?
- Some people have little attachment to the life or death outcome of this pandemic. “When it’s my time to go, God’s going to call me home.”
- Others believe their risk of death is no more likely than dying from a common influenza, and the experience of Covid-19 is no worse than flu-like symptoms.
- Some minimize the risk, because after all, isn’t life inherently filled with risk?
- Many people don’t trust scientists or doctors. Conspiracy theories are flourishing.
- Some people perceive the pandemic is starting to wane, and may have a false sense of security.
- Others bristle at having their individual freedoms restricted for the collective good. What if these temporary restrictions open the gates to permanent loss of individual rights?
- And of course, there is a small percentage of people who believe the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax.
However, it seems that the majority of protesters are primarily concerned about the economic impact to their lives. Protesters chant “Let us work!” Some protesters believe the shutdown is making things worse for larger numbers of people. The shutdowns may save lives while losing livelihoods. At best, they hope to reopen businesses and provide protections simultaneously. “We don’t think that there’s any reason we can’t protect the elderly and the vulnerable from this virus and still get our small businesses back up to work” said Paul Brockman with Reopen Maryland.
The people who are hardest hit need hope. “Give us a plan. Give some people hope. Give that small businessman hope that he could open up in a week or two or three or whatever it is. But they can’t stay closed forever,” Brockman said. These sound like the words of people who are devastated and demoralized. They see their lifestyle destroyed, with homelessness and hunger around the corner. Their basic needs for survival are threatened. They may think the potential consequences are more frightening than the small chances of a virus killing them.
In terms of Abraham Maslow’s ’Hierarchy of Needs’, large numbers of people have been knocked off higher level placement on the pyramid, to the bottom of the pyramid. Maslow’s hierarchy represents five categories of needs, with higher needs being dependent on the satisfaction of lower needs. If your lower needs are not met, then you are not in a position to fulfill your higher needs.
Picture a pyramid structure divided into 5 levels. The top level is Self-actualization – being the best version of oneself. The second tier is Esteem – the need to genuinely appreciate and respect oneself. The third tier is Love/belonging – the need to feel fully and unconditionally supported by another and doing the same for another. The fourth tier is Safety – the need to feel physically and emotionally safe from harm and genuine threats. The bottom, foundational tier is Physiological – our basic survival needs for food, water, shelter, warmth, or air are met.
Such an abrupt and unanticipated change from higher levels to lower level needs for survival, which we see with Covid-19, are extremely stressful. We are faced with a pandemic of unemployment. As people lose jobs, they also lose income, security and status. People in the bottom two tiers don’t know if they can survive.
For those of you who are struggling to survive, know that we care. You are seen and heard. And you are not alone. We will do our best to help you survive on a county, state and national level. But let’s also fight to stop the spread, thereby saving lives and other’s livelihoods. We can fight this together.