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'A Lot Of Eye Rolling': COVID-19 Safety Concerns Causing Rifts Between Families, Friends

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- We all have different comfort levels when it comes to COVID-19, and psychologists say it's putting a strain on relationships.

Dr. Cheryl Bemel at Allina Health says families and friends struggle with different opinions on socializing, events and safety precautions.

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Molly McShea and her family of four have been avoiding a lot of family and friend gatherings in the last few months. They haven't seen her in-laws at all, who she says tend to be looser on safety precautions.

"They are under the assumption that we're trying to keep our kids from them because they don't necessarily understand," McShea said.

One viewer told WCCO a friend stopped speaking to them over the mask debate. Emily from Rosemount also argues with family about it.

"A lot of eye rolling on their end and just not wanting to comply with my wishes," Emily said.

Bemel says there is a "great divide."

"Some people have a solid comfort level. Other people are taking it to the extreme," Bemel said.

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She says the most important thing is to have a conversation about your comfort level. If you disagree on something, she recommends staying away from trying to change the other person's mind. Bemel says it's better to first listen and acknowledge their point of view, and then you can express why you are or aren't going to a gathering.

"As you talk about it, it's important you say what your opinion is and what your stance is, but the issue is you want to hold onto your stance without losing the connection with a person," Bemel said.

She says ultimately focus on what you can control. That includes when you're at the grocery store or at work.

"If you're not comfortable, avoid that situation," Bemel said. "Go to another area of the store. Leave come back at another time."

McShea says it's hard missing out on events, and not seeing family.

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"Based on the current research it's going to be a while. I don't anticipate any time soon, unfortunately," McShea said.

Bemel did say it's important to socialize in some way for your mental health. She said try to find a compromise that allows for social distancing or wearing a mask to still see people face to face.


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