America’s response to coronavirus disease 2019 is evolving as quickly as the pandemic itself, with attitudes and actions diverging along the way. Exploring historical examples of population-wide responses to other large-scale, traumatic events may offer useful insights. In London during the 1940s, the populace was bracing for the devastation from German bombings. Remote misses those who see or hear the traumatic event and witness some of the aftermaths but evade physical or emotional harm.

MacCurdy postulates that these experiences result in emotional and behavioral changes through a mechanism known as «passive adaptation to danger,» in which near misses result in more cautionary behavior. On the other hand, remote misses result in «a feeling of excitement with a flavor of invulnerability» because these persons have faced their fears and survived without any physical or emotional effects. Therefore, the sense of invulnerability may be more pronounced among nonminority and younger age groups because a smaller proportion of cases or deaths have occurred among them, making it more difficult for them to relate to those affected. It has been estimated that the average American knows 600 people, which would mean that approximately 500 000 deaths from COVID-19 would have to occur for every American to know someone who has died, assuming an equal distribution of cases in the population.