4 Stories for Understanding Pandemic Living

Nine-plus months into the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of lessons learned. Scientists know much more about the virus that causes Covid-19 than they did several months ago. The pandemic has also changed many aspects of modern life, and researchers are also sharing new insights into why people behave in certain ways. Below are some of my favorite stories explaining the nuances and difficulties of pandemic life.

One of the more recent stories is a piece by Kendra Pierre-Louis on the ways that boredom impacts the spread of Covid-19. Research is showing that people who are less prone to boredom tend to have an easier time following precautions like social distancing.

Science writer Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote about why so many people can fail at basic Covid-19 precautions when in social settings. Experts say social distancing guidelines go against human’s deepest instincts and cultural norms. “Social forces have a strong hold on us and shape our choices even when we know better — sometimes even when we don’t actually want to be doing what we suddenly find ourselves doing,” she writes.

Another one of my favorite pandemic stories is this story by Tara Haelle on human surge capacity. It’s a personal and reported piece that digs deep into the growing fatigue of the body’s mental and physical survival systems.

Humans' lives are dominated by risk right now, and every decision is fraught with fear and uncertainty, as Dana G Smith reported in this August story about navigating near-constant decision-making. Her story is a thorough look into how the brain processes risk, the cognitive biases that sway decisions, and why people differ in their tolerance for uncertainty.



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Alexandra Sifferlin

Alexandra Sifferlin


Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that