The psychology behind a person's decision to follow public health guidelines

Posted at 10:23 PM, Oct 27, 2020

DENVER — In a sense, it feels like we’re going back in time.

"I hate to see all these restaurants that are closing up, I think it’s especially hard hitting for kind of the mom-and-pop shops," said Ben Mollner.

Restaurants are now limited to a 25% indoor capacity and last call is at 10 p.m. as cases of the novel coronavirus are on the rise.

"We’re all looking at this saying, 'please dear God, don’t make us go through this again.' It was really, really brutal on everyone and heartbreaking for our patients," said emergency physician for Denver Health, Eric Lavonas.

Lavonas says he understands people are getting sick of following certain public health guidelines, but not doing so is putting livelihoods at risk on several levels.

"I get that we’re all sick and tired of COVID and I wish it would go away faster. A vaccine will come but until then, let's do the simple things. Wear your mask, social distance, wash your hands," said Lavonas.

But why is something so simple in theory not being practiced across the board?

"Because they think it’s bogus, it’s not going to affect them, they have a strong immune system, they don’t realize that anybody can get it," said Keef Tesfay.

Psychologist with the Colorado Center for Clinical Excellence, Jason Seidel, believes it’s common for denial to be used as a shield.

"We get burned out and we tune it out because it’s just too hard to imagine living under that constant pressure," said Seidel.

He believes people who aren’t following the rules won’t be convinced to do so if more strict regulations are implemented.

"Whether with war or with disease or some other awful experience, it’s always been that way that there will be people who are screaming, 'Wake up, everybody! This is an emergency' and other people going, 'Oh, it’s being overblown, it’s being exaggerated'," said Seidel.

Whether it’s denial or carelessness, healthcare providers hope people don’t let up.