Ben Ab

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LessWrong Coronavirus Agenda

To Address the Problem: “How do I convince others to act?”

By now it seems clear that social distancing and shelter-in-place protocols are the most effective for reducing the spread of infection. I don’t know about other regions, but compliance in the US is unfortunately low. If increasing compliance is desirable, even when balanced against economic concerns, how do we encourage it?

Part of the problem is that people have to seek out information to become informed. Time and energy have to be invested for a person to figure out how important it is to stay home, and what sources of information are reliable.

Proposed Solution: Hospitals and medical groups should write letters to their entire mailing list pleading with people to stay home if possible. A message from your doctor’s office is far more persuasive than a general government announcement or news report. It’s local, personal, and credible. Everyone opens an email from their doctor.

Medical providers can explain the staff and resource shortages they face. They can explain that if everyone stays off the road as much as possible, this reduces accidents and frees up first-responders and scarce emergency room capacity (how significant would this be?). They can encourage a moratorium on other risky activities like extreme sports, even though those don’t violate social distancing rules (how significant would this be?).

This proposal is virtually costless, near effortless, can be implemented immediately, and would hopefully be effective.

Is it worthwhile to focus on getting medical providers to do this? If so, how do we reach out to them and maximize the number who do it ASAP?