In ways both obvious and subtle, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing social restrictions have changed the way we all do a lot of things. While we've been spared the brunt of the virus so far here in North Texas other parts of the country and the world have been hit much harder. To find out just how much we've changed as a society over the last few months, the New York Times did some research. Here's a little bit of what they found out when they surveyed a group of 511 epidemiologists. You know, the people who study epidemics and infectious diseases for a living.

On the topic of things they might start doing again soon 64% said they might start bringing in the mail without precautions sometime this summer. 3% said they'd never do that again. Bringing in the mail. That's something most of us do without a second thought. I suspect that a large percentage of the respondents live in large apartment buildings with a common mail center, simply walking to the end of our driveways and checking the box would seem to be a reasonably safe activity.

56% said they might take in an overnight vacation within driving range sometime this summer, 18% said they'd wait another year before they were comfortable doing that.

Only 41% said they'd be comfortable going to a barber or salon to have their hair cut this summer, 19% said they didn't expect to do that for another year. Interestingly, some of the respondents said that hair salons were high risk locations because of the nearness of individuals while others said they were low risk because of the stringent hygiene requirements. It seems even the experts can't agree on some of the aspects of this situation.

When the questions turned to things the respondents might do later in the year 46% said they might attend a small dinner party sometime in the next 3 to 12 months. 21% said they would wait at least another year before they were comfortable with that idea.

44% said they might travel by air in 3 to 12 months while 37% said they'd wait at least a year.

When asked when they would be comfortable working in a shared office again 54% said in 3 to 12 months, 18% said in a year.

When it came to attending a funeral or wedding, hugging or shaking hands when greeting a friend, and attending church, 42 - 43% said they would rather wait a year before they were comfortable with those activities. The next most common answer was 3 to 12 months coming it at 39 to 43%.

64% said they would not be comfortable going to a concert, play, or sporting event for at least a year so I guess we'll all have to get used to watch what little live sporting events there are with no fans in the stands.

Keep in mind that the study was done before the protests began and that these were their personal thoughts and preferences, not publicly advocated policies. The study does show just how much the coronavirus pandemic has changed has impacted all of us and how people are living their lives in just the past few months. Those changes come in ways we cannot even control ourselves. I need a new rechargeable battery for one of my devices and the store that I would normally go to is not allowing anyone in at the moment. You can order online or by phone and pick it up, outside, where they'll greet you in the parking lot, but you can't just walk in the door and find it on the shelf. I needed a mask to go to a dental appointment last week, I don't need a mask for another appointment in a different office this week. I suspect these little changes will be with us for some time.

It will be interesting to see what happens with infection rates over the next few weeks as the social restrictions are lifted across the nation and around the world.

With our current total confirmed case count of well under 100 in Wichita county we can count our blessings that we feel reasonably comfortable doing most of our daily activities at the moment. Such is not the case in other areas.

You can read the full story from the New York Times here.