- A new study finds that most Americans participated in ‘risky’ activities during the pandemic before vaccines were available
- Researchers found that 60% of people participated in at least one of 11 risky activities, with 17% participating in four or more
- The most common risky behavior was eating family or friends, 37.5% of participants, or eating inside a restaurant, 33.2%.
- People who are financially conservative are most likely to eat inside their restaurants, as are more educated people more likely to fly in airplanes.
Many Americans were ready to return to normal, pre-pandemic activities long before COVID-19 vaccines were available, a new study finds.
Researchers from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, found that more than 60 percent of Americans participated in at least one behavior deemed ‘risky’ before being able to receive the COVID vaccine.
Risky behaviors were considered such things as eating indoors at a restaurant, attending large social gatherings, and traveling unnecessarily, among others.
The study found that one in five Americans participated in four or more so-called risky behaviors.
More than 2,500 participants were surveyed on planning to resume 11 activities considered ‘risky’ during the pandemic. They found that even before the Covid vaccine was available, more than 60% had returned to at least one ‘risky’ activity, the most common being visiting family and friends or eating inside a restaurant.
Researchers found that people who were financially conservative or had low fear of the virus were most likely to eat at a restaurant indoors during the pandemic. Those who were more educated or of higher socioeconomic status were most likely to fly. Pictured: A family wears masks as they look at a restaurant menu in Amityville, Pennsylvania, July 16, 2020
The researchers, who published their findings in the journal sage Last week, in November and December 2020 surveyed over 2,500 people across the country.
Each was asked when they started planning to participate in any of the 11 activities that would be deemed ‘risky’ by health officials during the pandemic.
There was also an option to report whether the participant had already participated in the activity despite the spread of the virus.
More than a third – 37.5 percent – of respondents said they went by car to visit a family or friend, the highest of any activity.
Another third, 33.2 percent, also said they had eaten inside at a restaurant.
Other behaviors such as drinking or eating inside a bar (19.8 percent of respondents), staying at a hotel (25.1 percent), flying (15.1 percent) or taking a bus (14.1 percent) were also somewhat common.
Less than one in ten attended large social events such as concerts (7.9 percent), went to cruises (5.8 percent) or theme parks (8.2 percent), attended sporting events in person (6.5 percent) or went to museums (9.3 percent).
Overall, the researchers found that 60.3 percent of people had participated in at least one behavior in December—or earlier—before a COVID-19 vaccine was available.
Some, 17.5 percent, participated in four or more activities deemed risky.
The researchers note that younger people were more willing to take risks during the pandemic than their older counterparts.
Those who reported being more financially conservative or less afraid of the virus were more likely to eat at restaurants or visit loved ones.
Participants who came from a higher socioeconomic status or had a higher level of education were most likely to fly aircraft during the pandemic.
Regarding why wealthy or highly educated people took more flights than others, the researchers wrote, “These differences were based on socio-economic status rather than education and income and willingness to engage in risky behaviors,” the researchers wrote. Or it could be because of the demands of the job.”
The researchers also found that people who lived in rural areas were more likely to participate in risky behavior than their urban counterparts.
The team believes many Americans tried to adhere to pandemic guidelines, although they decided to return to normal life in some cases despite warnings from health officials.
The team believes that health officials should have done a better job of focusing and informing people about the potential risks of COVID, and the risk of catching the virus when they participate in this type of behavior. How sensitive is it really?
“Having the proper message and working with local, state and national health departments and the CDC to think about how we actually respond can help us prepare for the next pandemic,” said co-lead author and professor Dr. Jay Maddock from Texas. Being prepared will help.” A&M School of Public Health, in a statement.