Navigating the interpersonal side of recommendations about wearing masks and physical distancing can be tricky. Physical distancing runs counter to many of our social norms and complicates the ways we work, celebrate milestones, and generally interact with other humans. Things can get even more complicated when people’s boundaries and perceived levels of safety are in conflict.
So, what do you say to a friend who insists that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu? How do you talk to your parents who keep going to restaurants to eat indoors? What if a beloved family member wants you to come to their wedding or birthday party and you don’t feel safe attending? How do you talk to your kids about safety without scaring them too much?
This guide lays out scenarios like these, and specialists Laura Murray, PhD, clinical psychologist and senior scientist in the Department of Mental Health, weighs in on the interpersonal side of pandemic precautions. Crystal Watson, DrPH, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security, provides practical underpinnings based on current research, data, and public health guidance.