What Does 'Covidiot' Mean?

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the use of many new phrases and words, including the term "covidiot".

When COVID-19 became a global pandemic in March 2020, people quickly adapted to a new way of living. Suddenly, formerly household items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper became household staples. And a new language surfaced describing life during the pandemic, with phrases such as "social distancing" to "zoombombing" or "covexit." Among the new vernacular was the term "covidiot."

How Did the Term Come About?

Macmillian Dictionary defines "covidiot" as "an insulting term for someone who ignores health advice about COVID-19, hoards food unnecessarily, etc.." Urban Dictionary takes a pretty similar approach, defining "covidiot" as "someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety. A person who hoards goods, denying them from their neighbors."

The rise of such derogatory terms is not surprising during the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts say further divided the already-polarized American public. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in October of 2020 found that three-quarters of Americans believed the country was more divided after the pandemic started than before. The divisions seem to follow political parties. In terms of vaccinations, as of January 2022, 63% of Republicans have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, compared to 91% of Democrats, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) vaccine tracking poll.

Fortunately, it seems there is agreement among the American public on the desire for the pandemic to be over, what some call pandemic fatigue. Regardless of political beliefs, Americans said they were "frustrated", "tired" and "angry" with regard to the pandemic in a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll from January 2022. While a February 2022 KFF poll found that people across all three parties, said they believe the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was "behind us".

Why Do Some People Ignore COVID-19 Safety Measures?

"COVID-19 is a very contagious and dangerous illness that people need to take seriously," Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician in Akron, Ohio, and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, told Health. Still, these reasons might help explain why a person would not take the risks of COVID-19 seriously.

They're in denial. Some people aren't grasping the importance of the situation, said New Hampshire-based psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life. "They are in denial that the virus exists or is as bad as the media projects it," he said. "This denial also spills into a false bravado—'I won't get it.'"

They're not understanding the potential ramifications of their actions. Some people might believe they're immune to the virus or won't get seriously ill. "They may get infected, pass the virus along, and give it to someone who will get sick and die," said Dr. Mayer. "In many ways, it's a social responsibility for people to commit to reducing the transmission of the virus," Timothy Murphy, MD, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, told Health.

They're rebelling. "A certain segment of the population just wants to be nonconformist and rebel against societal norms," said Dr. Watkins. "This has been seen as acceptable in the past, but it isn't now during a deadly pandemic."

They're anxious. "When uncertainty and anxiety go up, people tend to participate in more extremes," Petros Levounis, MD, chair of the department of psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and chief of service at University Hospital, told Health. "Some people are extremely vigilant, while others say, 'Nobody knows anything anymore and I'm not going to wear a mask."

They're impulsive. This is especially likely after years of living under local restrictions. "It's made some people more impulsive, and there are certain things about impulsivity that are bad right now, like throwing a party with 100 people," said Dr. Levounis.

They think it's about politics. Public safety around COVID-19 has become a political thing to certain people. "Another segment sees social distancing and mask-wearing as a kind of political issue, like abortion or gun control," said Dr. Watkins.

They're selfish. "We have created a large population of people that are more concerned about self-interests and their own gratifications than the good of larger society," said Mayer.

It's important to follow the COVID-19 preventive tips from the CDC, which include getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, avoiding large crowds or groups of over 10 people, keeping a safe distance from those who are sick, and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces

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