The following statement comes from Miles Fahlman, author of Patterns of Virus: Navigating the Social Contours around SARSCoV2 and COVID19, that can be found in the Summer 2020 issue of Practicing Anthropology:
Concerning the Social Contours project here in Saskatchewan, which survey’s the general public on making use of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including high-risk behavior, and mask use, results on over 3000 respondents through the social sciences lab reveals that over 40% compliance using masks in daily activities. Studies of this kind are key to predict social behavior and outbreaks in a pandemic lockdown scenario. Without a vaccine or antiretroviral regime to stem COVID-19, surveying the general public on NPIs provides a metrics and data-based set of information to guide reopening. The Social Contours project allows governments to view how phased directives are impacting society and behavior. Again, without an established biomedical response to this pandemic (and future ones), we must rely on NPIs. Thus, understanding social behavior in response to government directives is a key way to control virus spread and can provide a window to future economic and societal decisions when lives are at stake. Surveying the public on high-risk behaviors and NPIs according to age, gender, location, and ethnic and socioeconomic background is a critical step towards not only understanding this disease but predicting public response to government directives and how to adjust these directives. The Social Contours project, from the beginning, has sought to work in tune with local government and public health, with our ultimate goal of returning back to normal.
Link to more writing on the topic of medical anthropology and SARSCoV1 and 2: