‘COVID shame’ stopping many from reporting infections, properly social distancing

CANTERBURY, United Kingdom — The moment an individual learns they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 is a scary one. Along with the obvious health implications, many may wonder if friends, family, or employers will view them differently now. Such fears may be irrational, but a study finds “COVID shame” is likely keeping some from reporting their infections. The stigma of the virus might even be causing patients to disregard health and safety recommendations.

Researchers from the University of Kent and Leeds Beckett University say feelings of shame and stigmatization connected to contracting COVID-19 have a link to lower rates of social distancing compliance. Feeling this way also reduces the odds that patients will properly report their condition to the authorities or personal contacts.

America’s unique response to COVID
The study focused on three nations specifically: the United States, Italy, and South Korea. Trust in government, or lack thereof, appears to be a key factor in deciding to keep a COVID diagnosis secret.

On the other hand, study authors also report that people who generally trust their government react differently. They feel a greater sense of “mutual solidarity” and are more likely to report their COVID-19 infection — to both authorities and acquaintances.

Researchers also dived into the differences among these three nations. They discovered more trust in the local government’s COVID response among South Koreans and Italians has a link to greater adherence to social distancing regulations. For Americans however, more trust doesn’t seem to lead to social distancing compliance. The British team contends that this uniquely American phenomenon may be due to the Trump Administration’s anti-science rhetoric.

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Source: StudyFinds