As the pandemic took hold, public health experts advised social
distancing and issued stay-at-home orders. People who could
work from home began to do so. Schoolchildren transitioned
to virtual learning. Restaurants moved to take-out only. Air
traffic ground to a virtual halt.
These and other measures helped to minimize Americans’
exposure to the novel coronavirus.
But as the pandemic captured the nation’s attention, caution
morphed into something more. Fear of exposure to the
coronavirus led people to avoid nearly all contact with the
outside world – even necessary medical care.