UC San Diego — A National Leader Against COVID

UCSD Students have been taking more Vitamin D this year, most exercise with a 1-layer mask, introverts are doing fine, many switched from contacts to glasses, & they prefer to continue online in 2021 (despite Zoom Fatigue).

Despite the calamitous nature of 2020 —
- Australian wildfires
- almost starting World War 3 in January
- Kobe Bryant’s death
- Tom Hanks’ & Rudy Gobert’s #COVID diagnoses on March 11th triggering America’s quarantine
- I experienced my first earthquake
- murder hornets
- the #Allyship conversations & protests this summer
- couldn’t get boba in July
- Chadwick Boseman’s Death #BlackPantherForever
- the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg
- Dak Prescott’s injury early in the Dallas Cowboy’s season

— There is reason for optimism in 2021 thanks to the historic election this Fall (#MadamVicePresident) & the approval of two #COVID19 vaccines (#Pfizer & #Moderna).

Here at UCSD, we’ve continued to be a model for the country in our handling of COVID. Per the New York Times, we’ve only had “about 70 cases since March among the more than 9,000 students living on campus.”

To all students, thanks for the many ways in which you offered your patience to professors (like myself) who had never taught online prior to March, perseverance through zoom fatigue, your motivation, energy, and efforts to maintain academic excellence amidst the greatest global calamity of our lifetimes, and — perhaps most importantly — your time.

Below are most of the COVID survey results collected during 2020’s Summer & Fall Quarters.

1. COVID Behavior Changes

Of 89 students who have worn contacts, about 1/3rd of them switched to glasses this year (reduces infection risk via eyes).

Many students are taking more #VitaminD this year than ever before.

2. UCSD Students are Exercising with a Mask

Many student report exercising while wearing a 1-layer mask (as recommended in lecture).

The heavy breathing resulting from exercise increases the aerosol emissions from an infector. Please continue to #WearAMask while exercising.

On Exercise (Richard Corsi)
The respiratory minute volume in units of air inhaled (L/min) is 5 to 10 L/min for rest to simple exertions like driving, to 50 to 60 L/min or more for aerobic exercise. Thus, the heavy breathing resulting from exercise can significantly increase both emissions from an infector and inhaled deposited dose of a receptor.

3. Wellness & Mental Health Check

Most students indicated that they’re “managing” — which likely describes most of the world right now.

Among the subset doing really well, they were (once again) #introverts.

Introversion (and personality in general) isn’t a protected category but the experience of introverts this year deserves to be discussed.

4. Health > convenience

Even though most UCSD students prefer in-person courses & are feeling #ZoomFatigue, they prefer to continue online in Winter rather than risk outdoor in-person courses.

5. Over 95% of Tritons Want the COVID Vaccine

Most Tritons will get one of the #CovidVaccine within a few weeks of their availability for students.

6. Virtual Belongingness

Tritons indicated playing more online videogames this year than in the past, and fewer single player games.

Online videogames (e.g., MMORPGs & MMOs) were clearly favored over single-player games among UCSD Tritons during COVID quarantine, as they indicated playing more online games this year than in the past. This is consistent with global gaming data indicating that social distancing led to a 40% increase in online gaming, helped by the World Health Organization’s gamer initiative #PlayTogetherApart.

WHO Videogame Initiative: Play Apart Together

Videogames are Protective Against COVID in Disincentivizing Leaving the House (or Couch). Playing video games can satisfy basic psychological needs & yield short-term improvements in well-being (Allen & Anderson, 2018; Ryan et al., 2006). This may be particularly helpful in curbing depression/anxiety during Social Distancing. (Data: #UCSD)

The social nature of online games helps to reduce feelings of isolation, social disconnection, and loneliness during quarantine in a way that’s not true for single player games.


7. Least Diverse Year of Our Lives

This has been the least diverse moment in many people’s lives. Students indicated their interpersonal interactions have become significantly less racially diverse since #quarantine started in March.

The obvious exception would be for individuals who already had diverse interpersonal networks prior to quarantine, & multiracial individuals as they’re more likely to have diverse social circles (not just ‘diversity by default’ at work/ study groups).

In large classrooms of 300+ it’s not as feasible to have breakrooms or encourage any remotely organized peer-to-peer discussion (nevertheless, it can be done). Thus, many students are missing the experience of diversity that most of them value at diverse universities like the UCs.

Most of the interpersonal racial diversity people are experiencing right now is on Netflix (interpersonal = not work colleagues or students or other structured interactions).

Talking to someone of a different race/religion via Zoom does little to reduce the intergroup anxiety & discomfort that one or both interactants may feel if the same interaction was taking place in-person.

Distance makes difference easier to deal with.

(Please check your *diversity privilege* if you’re an interracial couple, biracial, multiracial, or mixed individual. Also, UCSD’s Mixed Student Union will have an event for MultiRacial Pride Day on June 27th)

Top left data = Canvas student survey. Data below = from preregistered study

7A. It’s easier to see color in the daylight

In our preregistered mask study, most of the racially diverse/inclusive groups were documented during lunch hours. Dinner is usually a more intimate meal than lunch. In short, it’s easier to see color in the sunlight.

8. Mask Adherence & Group Composition (PreRegistered Study)


We found that men’s mask adherence was significantly lower when with someone else (36.4%) vs. alone (49.2%), whereas women’s was higher when walking/sitting with someone else (63.4%) vs. alone (60.6%).

In general, people are less likely to #wearAMask when outside with someone of the opposite-sex.

Consistent with all other research in the history of mankind that considered the influence of gender role socialization on mask adherence, men are less likely to wear a mask than women. This is attributed to gender role socialization rather than sex given that there’s no evolutionary reason why XY would perceive a piece of cloth to be a threat to their sense of self relative to XX. Thus, it seems more likely that the invisible mask of toughness that males are socialized to wear is getting in the way of putting on a real mask.

In addition, male groups walk in more asymmetrically spaced patterns with each other than female groups or mixed-sex groups. This likely reflects males’ goal of avoiding any sense of intimacy with the same-sex peers (Berscheid and Reis 1998; Maccoby 1990).

Note: 1. There’s a similar pattern once people who were outside jogging (100% maskless) are removed from the analysis. 2. Important to identify observations outside given that mask enforcement is higher upon entering buildings. 3. Some groups have more men than women, creating an imbalance in opposite-sex groups (see sex ratio graph).

8A. Sex Ratio & Mask Adherence

When taking the sex ratio of the group into account, everyone showed less adherence in *balanced* opposite sex groups.

Women kept their masks on in majority male groups.

8B. Race Ratio & Mask Adherence

Lastly, in contrast to Pathogen Avoidance expectations, there was a trend for people to show less mask adherence in racially diverse groups.

9. COVID Applied Logic Quiz Results (6 of 7 correct)

1. Walk where there are fewer people
2. Avoid sidewalks when possible
3. Don’t breathe across the entire aisle; be socially conscientious
4. Don’t buy the first item because everyone touched that one. Select the item behind or underneath the one in front.

5. Correct, it would be safer to be in a room with 6 introverts than 4 extraverts after Thanksgiving.
6. Correct, even though no one is currently sitting at the table, it is an implied social space. Thus, it is likely that someone was recently sitting there. As such, it would be safer to walk around the table at a wider angle.

7. Incorrect *cries → ‘A’ would be safer because the autolights aren’t on whereas they ARE on in option ‘B’. That means someone has recently taken staircase-B. No one has recently taken staircase-A.

8. Although hugs are beneficial for immune functioning, it is advisable to continue abstaining from hugs with individuals outside of your family until one of the huggers has received either the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.

10. Mask Adherence with Fashion Masks vs. Plain Masks

Good news: No significant difference in mask adherence for students who wear fashion masks vs basic masks.

Long-distance couples break up more often (Cameron & Ross, 2007). Humanity has been in a long-distance relationship with itself for most of this year.

We’ve likely got another 6–8ish months of #Zoom, though I think we’ll collectively feel better now that we know the tunnel actually has an end. The smallest light can dismiss the abyss.

— — — — The End Until Next Time — — — —

Sidenotes Primer (fyi)

Sidenotes are essentially powerpoint presenter view notes, and there’s no reason to perfectly cite something the audience will never see (aside for additional info for oneself). As such, many citations/references will be imperfect/incomplete & in some cases 100% missing down here. All material will be cited properly if/when used as the focal part of a future piece.

1918 Spanish Flu: Of Masks & Men

Antimask sentiment among males is over 100 years old at this point.

UCSD COVID Tests Required Weekly for Professors & Researchers (use this link to schedule)

UC Professors & Researchers, please use the link below to schedule your free COVID Test on campus that’s required weekly: https://covid19testing.ucsd.edu/?Symptom=asymptom&Location=campus

UCSD Pick-Up & Drop-Off Test Kit Locations

Students and employees may pick-up and drop-off a test kit at the following locations.* Please see adjusted holiday hours here.

  • Muir College | Mariposa Room (map)
  • Seventh College | Parcel Center (map)
  • Nuevo East | Fitness Center (map)
  • Price Center | Ballroom B (map)
  • More locations coming in winter 2021.

Vaccination identification

Given that we’re going to continue to #WearAMask after vaccination, it would be socially useful to create a salient/ unique* marker for vaccinated ppl.

Unique = Acquired only when leaving #COVIDvaccine location.

Making it unique — like a Heisman Trophy — would mean vaccinated status can’t easily be faked (e.g., Google knows if you ‘really’ won the Heisman).

It’d give companies/stores/ fitness centers/ theaters/ etc a quick visual cue of someone’s safety to enter.

An example of a socially salient marker of #COVID vaccination is the sticker #UCSD gives out.

If people place it inside a nametag, on a button, or other *daily item* it’d serve the same purpose as what I’m suggesting.

COVID Behavioral Screening Tool for Businesses

1. Check their social media. Do they have any posts/stories at restaurants/hangouts recently with their non-roommate friends?
If yes = denied.

2. If they refuse to share social media = denied.

Pre-Registered Study of Mask Adherence

For anyone interested, some of our pilot results can be found here

I'm passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of others, & that's something I have the opportunity to do a professor & researcher.