COVID-19 and Resilience

So here we are, over 200 days into experiencing COVID-19. In some ways, it is true that we are all in this together, yet we are also painfully aware of the uneven community level impact of COVID-19 depending on social factors—the neighborhood you live in, your race/ethnicity, and your socioeconomic status. We know that people of color are at higher risk of becoming infected and dying of the virus. Vulnerable communities are experiencing proportionally greater disease burden from unattended comorbidities during the pandemic, difficulties with health care access as well as dire economic consequences including food insecurity and homelessness. It is essential that we remain mindful of this reality and that as such, a “one size fits all” approach to remaining resilient in the face of COVID risks insensitivity to the very real threats to survival that some people are facing.

Having said this, I could not help but be buoyed by the findings of a nationwide survey, showing that despite expectations that loneliness would increase over the pandemic, this does not appear to be happening. This study (1) of 1,545 adults aged 18 to 98 (12.9% Black/African-American and 9.6% Hispanic), showed no overall changes in loneliness measured across three time points:

  1. February (before the outbreak);
  2. Late March (during the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign); and
  3. Late April 2020 (during “stay at home” orders).

The results of this study are a wonderful illustration of our resilience. We are adapting and finding ways to connect despite restrictions designed to decrease the spread of the virus that have affected the ways we normally socialize. We are also benefitting from the sense that we are going through something together. As we think about how to stay resilient, an important take home message is that thinking about ways of increasing solidarity and shared experience of our current circumstances may be as important as calling a friend.

Cori Cather, PhD 
Center Director, MGH COE


  1. Luchetti, M., Lee, J. H., Aschwanden, D., Sesker, A., Strickhouser, J. E., Terracciano, A., & Sutin, A. R. (2020). The trajectory of loneliness in response to COVID-19. American Psychologist, 75(7), 897-908.
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