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Have you heard the one about the emergency dept. that called 911?


COVID dept. of unintended consequences, part 2

The surveillance testing programs conducted in the first year of the pandemic were, in theory, meant to keep everyone safer. Someone, apparently, forgot to explain that to the students of the University of Wyoming and the University of Idaho.

coronavirus test Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

We’re all familiar with the drill: Students at the two schools had to undergo frequent COVID screening to keep the virus from spreading, thereby making everyone safer. Duck your head now, because here comes the unintended consequence.

The students who didn’t get COVID eventually, and perhaps not so surprisingly, “perceived that the mandatory testing policy decreased their risk of contracting COVID-19, and … this perception led to higher participation in COVID-risky events,” Chian Jones Ritten, PhD, and associates said in PNAS Nexus.

They surveyed 757 students from the Univ. of Washington and 517 from the Univ. of Idaho and found that those who were tested more frequently perceived that they were less likely to contract the virus. Those respondents also more frequently attended indoor gatherings, both small and large, and spent more time in restaurants and bars.

The investigators did not mince words: “From a public health standpoint, such behavior is problematic.”

Current parents/participants in the workforce might have other ideas about an appropriate response to COVID.

At this point, we probably should mention that appropriation is the second-most sincere form of flattery.


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