Shame Clouds COVID-19


made in Canva by Catherine Smith

The pandemic has caused shame about contracting COVID-19, making it hard to seek help and tell loved ones.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is still infecting many people a day there are various emotions concerning this worldwide crisis. The National Johns Hopkins University Pandemic Pulse Project found that one in four Americans associate shame with COVID-19.
Comparatively to the Midwest and West, individuals in the South are more “readily agreed” to the idea that people who get COVID-19 should be ashamed, according to VeryWell Health. “People think if you have COVID[-19] you aren’t doing what you should’ve been doing,” said junior Maddy Cadle. Johns Hopkins reported that 42 percent of the population agreed with the statement “People who get COVID-19 behaved irresponsibly.”
Junior Alyssa Owens, who contracted COVID-19 two weeks from a family member before Spring Break said, “At first there was a little bit of shame because I didn’t know how people were going to react when I came back to school.” Senior Carleigh Graham felt ashamed because “I exposed a lot of people just because of being in school which made me feel terrible, but that’s obviously not something I could necessarily control.”
Johns Hopkins University suggests that COVID-19 is not the first virus to have shame associated with it, but COVID-19 is world wide. “When someone would come to school with a cold in the past people would say ‘Get away from me!’ or ‘Ew your sick!’ and I feel like it’s the same for covid. Being sick isn’t a huge deal but people blow it up and make it this huge thing like they have with COVID[-19],” said Graham.
VeryWell Health suggests that guilt may keep people from breaking COVID-19 rules, but guilt from contracting COVID-19 is not always justified because contraction is easy. “I feel bad when people talk badly about people getting COVID[-19], I tried my hardest not to get it but I still did,” said Caddle.
The Project suggests that universal messaging is the key to stop stigmas; if everyone knows how the virus works, how to prevent it and how essential workers are exposed, they will not stigmatize others who contracted the virus.