Notes from In-house exile: A virus without a brain is outsmarting some humans with brains…
(5) March 22, 2020
I spoke to a doctor-friend who is on the medical front line in ————–, and he is as baffled as I am as to why so many folks are not taking Covid-19 seriously, even though (in his situation) the infections and dead bodies are piling up exponentially. There is of course the total incoherent, incompetent and incomprehensible actions and messages received daily from the arch anti-science POTUS; and so, a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding is understandable. At this point (in contrast with NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily press briefings) I think that the daily White House Covid-19 press briefings are actually doing more harm than good in the battle against this medical siege; as it also sets up Asian-Americas to receive racial discrimination and possibly even being violently attacked.
Unfortunately, in relationship to Mr. Trump the news media is under-performing in this crises. Even today MSNBC (Ali Velshi’s show) is still bringing on Republicans who flat out provide untruths and anti-scientific theories. I understand (sort of) the journalist wanting equal-time “debate”, even when the GOP position is stupid and a bold-face-lie, like Republican “Voter-ID” bills being about voting process integrity, and not what they are really about: Black and Latino voter suppression. But this is a major national health crises where misinformation equals death. It seems that brave journalist like PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor must bear a lonely burden of demanding truth from Mr. Trump and his daily band of mannequin cheerleaders.
But all of the scientific ignorance being displayed by ordinary citizens (many who probably don’t watch the White House press briefings) can’t all be blamed on the ignorance emanating from the White House. Why are so many people not taking this Covid-19 crises seriously? An elected official from my beloved Brooklyn; Assemblywoman Diana Richardson took to social media to express her shock that so many of the boroughs main streets looked “normal”; is there no wonder that Brooklyn is the epicenter of the epicenter of the disease. A few days ago NYC police officers had to put themselves and their families at risk by being forced to break up a large (hundreds of people) wedding reception in a Brooklyn neighborhood that some consider a “hotspot” for Covid-19 infections. I am all for love and marriage; but why not have a small private ceremony with a few attendees safely distanced from each other; and then have the ‘mother of all wedding receptions’ when we get through this plague?
“Perhaps”, I suggested to my medical doctor friend, “one of the things we science educators might want to plan for going forward, is to think about how we teach K-8 life sciences and high school biology. Over the years we have expanded the ‘environmental science’ parts of the life sciences curriculum in response to the existential threat we all face as species, due to the terrible damage we are inflicting on our (only home) planet. We may need to now raise the communicable disease literacy rates in our K-12 schools. Even now ‘science-facts’ challenged “anti-vaxxers” are threatening to not take any Corona-19 vaccine and not allow their children to receive it. Which means that a significant number of us in the community must take the vaccine and hopefully suppress the spread of the disease, as we also save their selfish behinds.
There is no need to “expand” the Life Sciences curriculum because the behavior of the Covid-19 virus is every bit consistent with the already existing Life Science topic/concepts of: Evolution, Life-cycles, Microorganisms, Reproduction, Genetics, etc. But what we do need to expand is the human capacity to understand that the virus is simply “opportunistic” (doing what viruses do!) in trying to survive and reproduce; only with the virus it’s about survival, and it’s not personal. We on the other hand are making this health crises about the personal and not survival.