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Guys Are More Likely to Break Coronavirus Rules

two guys playing video games at home
Michael  W. Smith, MD - Blogs
By Michael W. Smith, MDBoard-certified internistApril 02, 2020

When I heard the results of a poll showing men are more likely to discount the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and less likely to take extra precautions, I was troubled – but not surprised.

The events around the coronavirus outbreak are happening fast. It can be hard to keep up. But c’mon guys! We’re just talking about doing the basics to not only keep yourself healthy but to help ensure you don’t infect someone else who may be more seriously affected. You may believe that you don’t have coronavirus so aren't really a threat to anyone. But remember, about 25% of people have no symptoms, but you could still spread the virus to someone else who isn’t quite so lucky.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll of more than 4,500 adults showed that guys are less likely than women to practice social distancing – keeping a minimum of 6 feet between you and anyone else outside your home.

Guys were also more likely to think the virus wouldn’t get them. Consequently, men are neglecting to practice prevention, even in the most basic ways, like washing our hands more often. That was an issue even before this outbreak. I see your bathroom behavior, guys. If you actually wash your hands, it’s too often just a quick spritz of water and you’re on your way. Taking 20 seconds of your life to clean those hands is the least you can do to help us get through this crisis.

I get it – some of you are just not that concerned about what’s going on. In the survey, 54% of women were “very concerned” compared to 45% of men. That concern led women to agree with more aggressive actions to turn this around – actions that most officials have implemented.

Let’s explore that concern a bit. Ladies, I’m talking to you for a second. Unchecked anxiety is harmful to both your physical and mental well-being. Make sure to take time for yourself. You’re already the main caretakers of the house and the family, including extended family outside your home. Now that we’re all confined to our homes, the weight of your responsibility is heavier than ever. Guys, if you haven’t been already, step up and take an equal share of the household responsibilities.

Men also tend to think the media is creating panic about something that “isn’t really a big deal for most people.” And 25% of men strongly agreed that people are “unnecessarily panicking,” compared to 18% of women. As the number of cases and deaths continue to rise daily, I hope you’re starting to realize that no one is making this up. It’s real. It’s happening right in front of our eyes. The chance that you will personally know someone who becomes seriously ill, or even dies, from COVID-19, rises with each passing day.

There is plenty of hope on the horizon. “We will get through this together” isn’t just a platitude. We absolutely will, but only if we’re together. If you’re not that concerned about it, use that calm demeanor to help others. Not by discounting what’s going on or their feelings. Comfort them, be there for them, listen to them … really listen. And help us all get through this together.

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About the Author
Michael W. Smith, MD

Michael Smith, MD, CPT, is a board-certified internal medicine doctor and WebMD’s Chief Medical Editor. He is also an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer with a passion for helping people live a healthy, active lifestyle. He appears regularly as an expert on national and local broadcast media.

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