Covid-19 & Community Life: Why are Cases Rising?

As part of our Covid-19 and Community Life study, generously supported by the Wellcome Trust, we are excited to be sharing the second snapshot of our insights in a new report: Why are Cases Rising?

With Covid-19 cases rising, and restrictions tightening again, this snapshot responds to a turning point in the course of the pandemic. Whilst commentators are forming narratives to explain this change, we wanted to find out whether this reflected wider perceptions from everyday experiences across the country. We asked our nationally representative group of online dairy-keepers: ‘Why do you think cases are rising?’. The response was a lot more complex than a simple ‘blame-game’.

Our analysis shows a wide range of reasons:

1. Failures in Government More than half of participants point fingers towards poor leadership, incoherent messaging and insufficient restrictions from government; with decisions regarding the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme and ‘Track and Trace’ system receiving criticism from 21% and 18% of participants respectively.

2. The Selfishness of Others – 45% percent of respondents feel that individual behaviours are to blame. By not following government guidelines, it is perceived that these people are acting selfishly, rather than in the collective interest. One in five people also scapegoat certain demographic groups, namely the young, for such behaviours.

3. Lockdown Fatigue – Nonetheless, almost two-fifths of participants are sympathetic to these behaviours, suggesting that people have become fed up of restrictions, less fearful of contracting the virus, and thus more relaxed when it comes to flouting the rules.

4. The Inevitability of a Second Wave – Additionally, one in three considered a rise in cases as predictable, believing that activity (and hence transmission) had to increase because permanent restrictions on things like education and family life are not viable.

5. Who to believe? – Although smaller in numbers, a significant proportion (9%) did not believe the hype, stating that the statistics are exaggerated, and cases had not been on the rise as suggested. A further 6% who did not subscribe to these views personally felt these types of theories and conspiracies are damaging to wider perceptions of the virus, thus contributing to the increase in cases.

You can download and read the full report here.

This project is exploring how Covid-19 is changing our relationships, interactions and experience of community in real-time. Using both a digital platform, whereby around 140 participants are currently sharing their stories and experiences online, supplemented with phone interviews with 30 people who do not have access to, or feel comfortable using, digital devices. We are focusing on three key themes:

1. How the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting interactions between individual in society

2. How the role of the digital realm plays a role in community response

3. How individuals and communities relate to science and research

The Covid-19 & Community Life project builds on the Covid & You research we carried out earlier this year. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the research aims to give a more nationally represented sample of participants, capturing the diverse voices we find throughout the UK.