What did 511 epidemiologists say about when they would eat out, get a haircut, send kids to school?

What did 511 epidemiologists say about when they would eat out, get a haircut, send kids to school?
Sporting's mascot lion waves from the empty stands during the Portuguese League soccer match between Sporting CP and Pacos de Ferreira at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, June 12, 2020. The Portuguese League soccer matches are being played without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic. ( (Antonio Cotrim/Pool via AP/AP)

Do you feel comfortable eating in a restaurant? What about sending your children to a summer camp?

Would you feel better about doing it if an epidemiologist — a public health researcher who studies causes of diseases and who they may put most risk — said they would do it? Or would you be more cautious if they said they wouldn’t?

The New York Times asked 511 such public health researchers their personal opinions about what they feel comfortable doing as the COVID-19 virus circulates around the world, and when they expect to return to activities they may not have given a second thought to undertaking this time last year.

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They were asked if they would consider doing the activity this summer, 3-to-12 months from now, more than 12 months from now, or never again.

The Times article stresses that the answers the researchers gave are not guidelines for the public, but simply how respondents feel about the risks of doing certain activities as the virus circulates and more “widespread testing, contact tracing, treatment and vaccination for COVID-19” become available.

Here’s what some of the researchers said:

Would you eat at a dine-in restaurant: Of the 506 who responded, only 16% would dine-in in a restaurant now. Fifty-six percent would do it 3-to-12 months from now and 28% said they would not consider dining in until after this time next year.

Would you get a haircut: Of the 485 who responded, 41% said they would get a haircut now and almost as many, 39%, said they would wait 3-to-12 months. Nineteen percent said they could wait more than a year to do that. One percent said they would never go to a barber or beauty shop again.

Would you attend a sporting event or concert: Only 3% of the 489 respondents said they were comfortable attending a sporting event, play or concert. About a third said they would consider it in 3-to-12 months and 64% said they will wait more than a year before they will go to any of those events.

Would you see a doctor for a nonurgent appointment: Sixty percent of the public health researchers said they would be comfortable going to their doctor’s office for a regular appointment. Of the 507 respondents, 29% said they would wait for 3-to-12 months and 11% said they would wait for more than 12 months.

Would you send children to school, camp or day care: Of the 304 who responded, 30% say they are comfortable sending children to school, camp or day care this summer. More than half, 55%, said they would be OK with it come fall and within the following months. Fifteen percent said they would wait until after this time next year to make that decision.

To see more about the public health researchers’ survey, click here for the Times story.