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COOS COUNTY — Since the COVID-19 closures many have adhered to government mandates, while others have chosen not to comply with shelter in place orders, which most likely stems from denial.

According to local psychology professor Cheryl Davies at Southwestern Oregon Community College, many folks could be experiencing denial during these uncertain times.

“Some people think they’re not going to get it, and they don’t know anyone who has it, so for them it’s not real,” Davies said.

Davies talked about denial as a defense mechanism that allows one's ego to trick them into minimizing the potential impact of a situation. This is potentially what’s happening with some folks who are choosing not to follow social distancing mandates.

“Some are denying anything is happening, because they can rationalize it as being far away … It helps the ego let you do the things that you want to do,” Davies said.

Davies said that denial, as a defense mechanism, is a way of allowing one’s self to get rid of anxiety surrounding what society people they can and can’t do.

People who want to be out and social are facing denial of risk involved with COVID-19 because it’s a way for them to avoid the social anxiety associated with self-quarantine and shelter in place mandates.

“People don’t feel like they’re a risk to others, they don’t feel sick, and they also feel they need to do something. So they go out and meet with friends. They can deny that they are a health risk, because they feel fine, and they’re healthy. Davies said. “It’s all about getting what you really want to do out, and if you just downplay risk, and say ‘oh that’s for other people,’ then you get to do what you want.”

These are unprecedented times, and many have never been told they have to stay at home before, which can cause some to disobey.

“If you think about society in general, all of us have been told our whole lives that we can do whatever we want. We’ve been so independent, that having the government tell us to stay in our homes is so strange for people,” Davies said.

Another reason some are in disbelief or denial, Davies said, was a lack of information from reliable sources.


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