As we find ourselves in what medical professionals believe to be the peak of the COVID-19 Outbreak, many Americans continue to push the boundaries of what local and state government are asking of us to help prevent the spread of the virus. Initially, our local and state government in California asked that all citizens stay home unless there was a need to provide for their family; food, healthcare, or another essential for their survival. With many Californians and Americans alike, many believed this time to be appropriate to be social, or experience an extended Spring Break, especially among younger demographics who were not believed to be threatened by the virus.
For example, one Spring Break-er was caught on camera on a beach in Florida on March 17th, 2020. He said “If I get corona, I get corona. I’m not going to let it stop me from partying.” (Lewis, 2020). This type of selfish, indulgent behavior to serve one’s personal needs at the expense of the many with high susceptibility to contracting the virus is an example of those who could not follow the rules from state and local government.
In California, the weather allows for year-round opportunity to surf, play volleyball, and experience other outdoor activities. In an area that is more conducive to year-round exercise, Californians rely on being able to go outside and be active. Unfortunately, many of those activities encourage groups of people to get together to participate. Here in Santa Barbara, man people continued to play their daily beach volleyball, tennis, and pickle ball games with their close friends. Within two days after Governor Newsom’s “Shelter in Place” order, the City of Santa Barbara had removed all public beach volleyball nets or locked tennis and pickle ball courts, barring the public from use. While Santa Barbarians can still take walks on the beaches or enjoy hiking trails while social distancing, LA County took things one step further. According to the City of Santa Monica, all public beaches in LA County are now closed until at least April 20th, in order to limit group activity and the spread of COVID-19.
Even with these initiatives from local and state government, Americans still attempt to engage their freedom to indulge in activities they have been offered in times of safety. Yet, without understanding they are at risk, their behavior is putting themselves and any other person they come in contact with at risk of contracting the virus.
In Hofstede’s Six Dimensions of National Culture, his last dimension is Indulgence. He defines Indulgence as “the good things in life.” (Hofstede, n.d). On his map, the United States is one of the areas that is rated the highest in indulgent behavior as a culture. In countries where COVID-19 has wrecked the most havoc, Italy and China, Hofstede had both rated lowest in indulgent behavior. While the three countries being compared have different demographics in terms of age and common health issues, my concern is the United States and it’s high rate of indulgent behavior. Will we as a nation, in a time of uncertainty and health crisis, be able to curb our desire to exercise our freedom to benefit the greater population? Or will the US become the incubator for COVID-19, and experience the most deaths as a country being hit by the virus?